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American Delegate of the Commission for Relief in Belgiu 
in charge of the Province of Antwerp 

(With Illustrations} 





Published November, 1916 



Zyne Eminentie 

Aartsbisschop van Mechelen 


Gemeenteraadslidy Schepen, en Nolksvertegenwoordiger, 

Foorzitter van het Nationaal Komiteit voor 

Hulp en Feeding der Provincie 



.^ Foorzitter van het Nationaal Komiteit voor 
Hulf en Feeding der Provincie Antwerpen 


Chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium 

and to 




W. W. FLINT, of New Hampshire 

W. W. STRATTON, of Utah 




J. B. VAN SCHAICK, of New York 

Loyal friends, Americans all y fellow-members of the 
Antwerp delegation of the Commission for 
Relief in Belgium 

Thanks are due the Metropolitan Magazine, the Out- 
look, Leslie's Weekly, the New Republic, and Collier's 
Weekly for permission to republish portions of this book 
which have appeared in their pages. 




Off to the Wars ! 

Mutiny 4 

Captured at Sea . . 13 

Floating Mines 19 

Interned 23 

A Night on Devil's Island 27 


Osnabriick to Berlin 34 

Prussia Enthroned 38 

How the Poor Fared 44 

War Worship 50 

German " Preparedness " 53 

Three Famous Socialists 59 

The Attack 67 


Berlin Versus Antwerp 71 

An American Spy 74 

England Aids Belgium 78 

War Correspondents .82 

The Bombardment of Antwerp 87 

What a Shrapnel Shell Did Qi 

A Bath and a Forced March 95 

Blowing up the Bridge . . . . 100 

Enter: the Germans IO 4 

The Army of Occupation .107 

First Aid to Antwerp "0 




On the Road to Holland 114 

Vluchtelingen . ........ 118 

At the Frontier 121 

Dutch Hospitality 127 

Atrocities 133 

Relief Work in Holland 138 

Cities of Refuge 144 

A Story of King Albert 148 


Antwerp Again 152 

The Conquerors 156 

Humorous Herr Baedeker 162 

German Government 169 


The Catastrophe 175 

The Cry for Help 180 

Brand Whitlock 185 

Herbert C. Hoover 191 

The Commission for Relief in Belgium . . . 198 

A Dead City 202 

American Delegate for Antwerp 206 

Misery in the Campine 210 

Communications 216 

A Visit from Hoover . 220 

The Christmas Ship . . . . . . . .224 

Belgian Gratitude . 228 

Cardinal Mercier's Pastoral Letter . . . .235 

Patriotic Clocks 241 

Alarums and Excursions 245 

Internal Conflicts 251 

The Waesland 255 

A Belgian Co-operative 258 

Breathing Spells 262 




A Great Financier 269 

Hard Cash 273 


Their Daily Bread 280 

Joyous Entries 286 

Bread Lines and Soup Kitchens 293 

Health, Clothing, and Housing 296 

Unemployment 304 


Hauling Down the Flag 308 

Great Britain Takes a Hand 311 

Feeding the North of France ...... 315 


The Golden Legend 318 

La Belle Belgique . ., 322 


I. Three Famous Socialists 327 

II. Press and Post 331 

III. Public Charity and Exchange 333 

IV. Incredibly Small Expenses . . . . . . 334 

V. Gifts of Service .335 

VI. The First Supplies 335 

VII. Early Food Shipments 336 

VIII. Flemish 337 

IX. The Poor .338 

X. Belgian Committees 339 

XI. The Millers' Belgian Relief Movement . . .341 

XII. The Priest 341 

XIII. Ante-Bellum Belgium 342 

XIV. The Artistic Temperament 342 

XV. First Aid .... 343 



XVI. Bar-le-Duc 344 

XVII. Interlocking Organizations 345 

XVIII. Food Requirements 345 

XIX. Coffee 347 

XX. A Co-operative Society . . . . . . -347 

XXI. The National Relief Committee* . . . .348 

XXII. The Contribution of War 349 

XXIII. Finance 349 

XXIV. Wheat and Flour . . . ... . .351 

XXV. Distribution 352 

XXVI. Soup Recipes 353 

XXVII. Selling Gift Goods . 354 

XXVIII. " American Shops " 356 

XXIX. The Clothing Workshop 357 

XXX. Temporary Houses 359 

XXXI. Unemployment Relief V. 361 

XXXII. Bricks and Laces 362 

XXXIII. The Crop Commission 365 

XXXIV. Belgian Harvests 366 

XXXV. The North of France 367 

XXXVI. French Financial Organization . . . . . 368 

XXXVII. Funding the Relief Work 37<> 

XXXVIII. Governmental Subsidies 372 

XXXIX. Belgian Gratitude 372 


WAR BREAD Frontispiece 









Louis FRANCK 206 


CHRISTMAS, 1914 228 



JULY FOURTH, 1915 278 








THE Holland-America liner " Nieuw Amsterdam " lay 
fuming at her Hoboken pier. It was midnight, August 
24-25, the first month of the war. The air was heavy, 
like hot oil ; pier lights scorched the dark with their elec- 
trical glare; and the ship's funnel spat smoke into the 
starless vault overhead. 

Gangways vomited stewards and hastily swallowed 
them again, for we were sailing in less than an hour. 
My trunks were lined with cartons of condensed soups, 
egg powder, and Erbsenwurst, for reports on European 
food conditions were already alarming; the money-belt 
about my waist was uncomfortably heavy with British 
and American gold-pieces, for the newspapers said 
there was no reliable exchange abroad ; my pockets were 
full of important letters, passports, and a bulky life in- 
surance policy. The times were inauspicious for travel. 
Yet the ship appeared to be full. Everywhere were 


strange faces. Heavy featured, gruff voiced men, nine- 
teen to forty years old, with thick silver watch-chains 
looped across their waistcoats and little sausage-roll 
satchels in their hands, streamed into the ship and shouted 
good-bys to the crowds of friends who lined the pier. 

" Who are they, steward? " I asked. 

" German reservists, sir." 

" But I thought the ship would be empty." 

" Nearly a thousand of them, sir." 

In the steerage twenty or thirty men strolled aim- 
lessly up deck and down, droning, with impartial en- 
thusiam and tunelessness, " The Watch on the Rhine," 
" Hail, Kaiser, to Thee," and a song from the latest 
musical comedy on Broadway. The night grew more 
and more electric, and half an hour before sailing time 
the tension suddenly snapped like cord. A steerage 
passenger with hair clipped convict-close and face fiery 
red, shirtless and hatless, reeled slowly down deck, sing- 
ing. Others followed him unsteadily, and at the end of 
the song they leaned together, arms linked, and he led 
them in three "hochs" for the Kaiser. Passengers 
from the first and second cabins cheered. The mob of 
friends ashore in the glare of the pier lights waved 
handkerchiefs and shouted applause. 

There was a sudden stir beside me. On the promenade 
deck a huge reservist, his cheeks slashed with the rapier 
scars of his German student corps days, bellowed a rip- 


ping "hurrrrrrrrrrrrah!" and instantly, as if a military 
command had been given and an army had obeyed, the 
masses of men fell into triple lines across the decks, fac- 
ing the pier, and began to sing "The Watch on the 
Rhine." They roared and rumbled and trampled the 
music out, so that it beat in a steady series of explosions 
against the high walls of the pier. If Krupp guns could 
sing they would sing like that. There was more menace 
in the music than in any I had heard before. It ex- 
pressed no wild, universal human longing, such as one 
feels in the chant in the " Marseillaise " ; it seemed part 
of the vast, age-long, irresistible march of the Teutonic 

They sang Deutschland ilber alles. Volleys of voices 
beat my ears with a shock like battle. The singers, I 
learned afterward, had come from Alaska, Canada, the 
United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Saskatchewan, but 
they sang as if they had been drilled to sing together 
since childhood. Then came " Hail, Kaiser, to Thee " ; 
then the Austrian National Hymn ; then the old Swabian 
folk-song, Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Stadtele hinaus, 
the farewell which German soldiers have sung for cen- 
turies to their sweethearts when they go to the wars. 

And there were sweethearts at hand; the pier was 
lined with them, waving their handkerchiefs and cheer- 
ing at every pause in the singing. There were mothers 
and wives and brothers and sisters and friends, all there 
on the pier, three or four yards away, packed against the 


rail and plainly visible in the white electric glare. But 
while the men sang there were no tears, and when the 
singing stopped there were no tears, and when at one 
o'clock the ship began slowly to move out into the black 
river and the cheering rose to salvoes of enthusiasm, un- 
til the Captain had to blow his whistle to drown the 
partisan noise, still there were no tears. The grief of 
parting hid itself under a stern and pitiless joy at being 
able to share in Germany's war. The men were off to 
win personal glory, but far more than that they were to 
win national glory; glory for Germany, for German 
might, German efficiency, German organization, German 
intelligence, German capacity for taking pains for 
" Germany first/' Deutschland iiber dies. 

The passengers on the " Nieuw Amsterdam " did not 
trouble to think that America was a neutral country; 
that the ship on which they sailed was a neutral ship. 
They did not trouble to think what a scandalized New 
York City press and public would say of them next 
morning. They were off to the wars at last. They cared 
for one thing for Deutschland iiber alles, over neutral 
ships and neutral nations, neutral thoughts and neutral 
silence, too; for they were going home to the wars. 


" It can't be; it can't be, I tell you! " 
A group of reservists pounded the ship's bulletin- 
board with their fists and yelled in fear and hate. Others 


clawed at them, struggling and swaying to and fro in an 
effort to read something newly written on a square sheet 
of white paper, posted under the heading " Marconi- 
grams." The day's war news, picked up by wireless and 
posted at noontime, was already old. A sketchy war 
map pinned to the bulletin-board by Dr. Hendrik Wil- 
lem van Loon showed the victorious German armies 
sweeping like a sickle through France toward Paris. 
Louvain was burning. Belgium was overrun. Lille had 
fallen. Cossacks were in East Prussia. 

But a more sensational message had arrived. Men 
came running from up and down the saloon stairs and 
fought those ahead of them to read it. 

"What had happened?" they demanded breathlessly. 

"What is it?" 

"Bad news?" 

"The English?" 

" Is it the damned English? " 

" Are we going to be captured ? Are we going to be 
captured ? " 

We had been seven days at sea. The " Nieuw Am- 
sterdam " was more like a military transport than a neu- 
tral liner. Of her thousand passengers only seventy- 
five were women ; two hundred Dutch reservists were in 
the steerage they were wanted at home to keep Hol- 
land out of the war and more than seven hundred and 
fifty German and Austrian citizens of military age were 


scattered throughout the ship. There was a Prussian 
staff officer in the steerage; a nephew of Count von 
Bernstorff, German Ambassador to Washington, was in 
the second cabin; there were privates in the first cabin, 
and one and all they tramped the sanded decks from 
morning till night like infantry on the march. They 
cultivated bristling mustaches, and the ship's barber 
grew rich clipping their hair. 

Arid always they talked of the war. They knew to 
the slightest detail the organization of their armies, the 
number of corps, and the broad strategy of the war. 
War to them was a science, not a thing of horror. War 
was to recreate Europe. War was an incident in na- 
tional life ; a step on a long road, deliberately planned for, 
deliberately entered upon, the end of it long foreseen. 
Let the nations fight: Germany would conquer. In the 
end Germany must dominate Europe, and confer upon 
it German order, German system, German efficiency. 

Things like Belgian neutrality were unimportant when 
the evolution of the German Empire was at stake. 

But after the first wild burst of enthusiasm, the 
reservists grew anxious. Fear, laboriously held in check, 
lurked always beneath the surface of their thoughts. 
Every smudge of smoke on the horizon suggested a pur- 
suing British cruiser. The thought of England became 
a nightmare. Every league nearer the English coast 
made England bulk larger in their imaginations, and they 



talked less and less of Germany and more and more of 
England. The steerage passengers lay all day like 
sleepy, watchful cats, stretched out on slack gray can- 
vases covering the life-boats, and studied the pitiless open 
sea. First cabin passengers promenaded the hurricane 
deck and swept the waters with glasses or demanded 
news at the door of the Marconi room. Rumors flew 
from mouth to mouth, and fear and hatred throve. 

Thick fog came with the seventh day at sea, and the 
spirits of the reservists rose again. " It will probably 
hold until we reach Rotterdam," they said. " But the 
British won't dare to touch us, even if they stop us. 
This is a neutral ship. The Germans will be in Calais 
by the time we reach the English Channel. We'll put 
a pistol to the Captain's head and make him take us in- 
side the three-mile limit and land us right with the Ger- 
man army ! " 

But Captain Baron of the " Nieuw Amsterdam " now 
turned the tables on his passengers. On the bulletin- 
board was a short and ominous message from the cap- 
tain of our sister ship, the " Rotterdam," en route to 
New York: 

Noon position 50.9 N., 15.30 W. Foggy in Channel. 
Since good weather. Was held up by British cruiser be- 
tween Downs and Lizard. " Potsdam " was ordered by 
English warship to proceed to Falmouth. No news about 
passengers when I left Rotterdam, but probably Germans 
and Austrian reservists taken off. Pleasant trip. 

(Signed) STENGER. 


The group about the bulletin-board roared threats and 
suggestions. " We must fight ! We must do something ! 
Go to the Captain and make him take us back! Make 
him take us back to New York. Make him go north 
around Ireland. Make him take us to Hamburg. Shoot 
him if he won't do it!" 

I raced up to the Captain's office, just below the bridge, 
and waited for the next move. Fog deluged the ship, 
screening her from all eyes, and the waves roared be- 
neath. Sky and sea and air were a dirty, dangerous 
gray. But the fog horn was dumb and the wireless gave 
no sign. We were silently running toward the British 
patrols. Somewhere hidden in the fogbanks before us 
the liner " Rotterdam " was hurrying toward New York 
and safety. Would the Germans compel our Captain 
to put them aboard her? Would they make him turn 
back with the " Nieuw Amsterdam"? I knew they 
were desperate. The men clustered about the bulletin- 
board were half frantic with fear. Their next move 
would be interesting. 

There was not long to wait. Six officers of the re- 
serves suddenly appeared in line at the door, bowed, re- 
moved their caps, and in perfect silence filed over the 
threshold and ranged themselves about the Cap- 

" Herr Kapitan" the senior German began, clutching 
his North German Yacht Club cap in his nervous fingers, 
" we have seen the marconigram from the captain of the 


' Rotterdam/ We request that you turn the ship about 
and sail her back to New York." 

The Captain's chilblain cheeks glowed crimson and his 
walrus mustaches stiffened as he answered in halting 
German, carefully picking his words. " Gentlemen/' he 
began, " this is a neutral ship. I go on, or I lose my 
ship and my commission." 

" Then, Captain, you must set us on board the ' Rot- 
terdam ' to be returned to America." 

" But," objected Captain Baron, " the ' Rotterdam ' is 
crowded already. Every ship for America now is full 
with Americans anxious to get home ; nik wahr? There 
are eight hundred of you. How could I transfer so 

The spokesman flushed. He decided to be brutally 
frank, to think only of his own safety. "We do not 
ask you to transfer all," he said sullenly. 

"Who then?" 

" I speak for myself and my friends." He indicated 
the committee with a wave of his cap. 

The Captain retorted hotly, " I will not do for you 
what I would not do for the others ! " 

" All the first-class passengers, then ! " 

" I will not do for the first-class what I cannot do for 
the second-class and steerage." Then he added, per- 
suasively, " Think, gentlemen ; there would be riot 
there if I transferred only you." 


The committee muttered. " Transfer all, then. Cap- 
tain, you must " 

"Transfer in this heavy sea?" The Captain stared. 
" My boats would be knocked to pieces. If one boat is 
smashed, if one life is lost, I am responsible ; nik wahrf " 

The committee grew openly angry. One after the 
other they snapped out orders, and the Captain answered 
more and more stiffly. 

" You must take us to Spain ! " 

" To Spain ? " The Captain shrugged his shoulders. 
" I have only enough coal to reach Rotterdam. My 
papers say I go to Rotterdam. I go there not to 

"To the Azores!" 

" But, gentlemen, the Azores are two thousand miles 

" Around England to the north! " 

"But coal?" 

" By God, Captain, you must do something for us ! 
It was understood when we bought our tickets of your 
company " 

" Gentlemen, gentlemen, nothing is understood at sea. 
Anything can happen at sea ; nik wahrf On the back of 
your ticket it says you agree this company shall not be 
held responsible for loss or damage arising from acts 
of God, accidents at sea, or any acts of princes or rulers 
of peoples." 

" But, Captain " 


" I cannot do anything." 

" But " 

" I say I cannot do anything." 

Perspiration started on the brows of the committee- 
men. They stared at each other and at the Captain help- 
lessly. Each man was thinking only of himself. Free- 
dom or prison until the end of the war hung in the bal- 
ance, and the Captain held the scales. They itched to 
settle the matter by a fight, instead of argument, but the 
old Captain was stubbornly firm. " If there is outbreak 
I put the troublemakers in irons ; nik wahr? " 

The committee decided to surrender at discretion, and 
its spokesman addressed the Captain again. " Herr 
Kapitan, will you allow us to send a marconigram to the 
captain of the ' Rotterdam ' ? " 

" Certainly, gentlemen." 

" We will ask him to take us off." 

"Of course, of course. But I know what the captain 
of the ' Rotterdam ' says. He says, ' I have already 
three thousand passengers. I cannot take one more/ 
But you may send the message." 

The committee climbed slowly down the ladder, brush- 
ing aside nine-year old Hans, a little lonely German boy 
who would never march or fight because of a lame hip, 
but who played constantly with toy soldiers. The crowd 
of passengers rumbled with excitement. They rushed 
on the committeemen and overwhelmed them with ques- 
tions. "What did the Captain say?" "Will he set us 


on the 'Rotterdam'?" "Are we going back to 
America? " " What are we going to do? " " Shall we 
get through? " " Are we going to Hamburg? " 

" To the smoking-room ! " ordered the senior member 
loudly. " To the smoking-room ! to the smoking-room ! " 
echoed the crowd, and rushed down the decks and 
through the narrow doorways, hunting for places of van- 
tage among the tables, chairs, and heavily upholstered 

The chairman walked to the center of the room, 
ceremoniously removed his cap and placed it beside a 
plate of sandwiches, cleared his throat, and waited for 
absolute silence before he began. 

" Gentlemen/' he said, ignoring the presence of the 
ladies, " the Captain permits us to send a marconi to the 
captain of the ' Rotterdam ' to ask that he take us back 
to New York. We can do nothing else. How many 

Twenty or thirty hands flew up. There was consterna- 
tion on every face, but no attempt at debate. The chair- 
man clutched his yachting cap, placed it on his head, and 
strode out to draft the wireless message. 

Half an hour later Captain Baron gave the answer. 
The " Rotterdam " could do nothing. She was less than 
ten miles away from us, blanketed in mist, but every 
stateroom was filled to bursting with Americans frantic 
to get home, and Captain Stenger could give no aid to 
the passengers on the " Nieuw Amsterdam." There was 


nothing to do but to sail straight on into the jaws of the 
British Lion jaws which stretched from Cape Town 
to Bergen and chalked up on the bulletin-board beside 
Captain Stenger's first marconigram appeared this warn- 

Passengers will please pay their Wine Bills to the Head 
Steward before leaving the Ship. 


A dull echo of thunder awoke me. It was five 
o'clock. The haze of early morning swam dizzily past 
the clouded port-holes, so one could see nothing out- 
side. An excited Teutonic voice began calling in the 
passageway; then another and another. A child cried 
out. Suddenly the engines stopped, and the ship slid for- 
ward noiselessly except for the lapping of waves. 

I tumbled out of my berth and ran upstairs, in pa- 
jamas, dancing pumps, and overcoat. Others ahead of 
me had made equally impromptu toilets and met each 
new arrival with grim laughter and jests. 

We were stopped, but were we captured? The thun- 
derclap that woke me had been the sound of a shot fired 
across our bows. 

Standing on the slippery deck and clinging to the drip- 
ping rail, we saw a passenger ship of about the tonnage 
of the " Nieuw Amsterdam," with big red funnels and 
black hull, slowly bearing down toward us. A gun or 
two peered from her forecastle ; two large signal flags 


a white cross on a blue field and a blue-and-white checker- 
board the code which means " stop immediately " 
flew at her peak. A gull, the first we had seen for a 
week, swung lazily in the level morning light between the 
two ships, and a shark undulated alongside. 

But what was the nationality of the stranger? I 
looked twice for her flag and could hardly believe my 
eyes. It was the tricolor of France ! 

" She's not British : she's French ! " I gasped to a Ger- 
man beside me. 

" Donnerwetter! " he groaned, " France ; not Eng- 
land after all. It will be worse for us than if the Eng- 
lish had captured us. This is the second of September 
Sedan Day the anniversary of the battle where we 
captured their Emperor. A bad day for us ! a very bad 

The newcomer slid broadside to us. We could see 
seven or eight guns pointing wickedly from between her 
decks or from the bridge ; a moment more and we could 
read her name : she was " La Savoie," a passenger ship 
of the French Line, plying ordinarily between Havre and 
New York. 

On the boat-deck one of the Dutch marconi operators 
was leaning over the rail behind a life-raft. His white, 
angular profile was turned seaward, but he heard my 
step and wheeled. To my astonishment his face was 
radiant. "Good," he hissed exultantly; "Vive la 
France! Vive la France; riest-ce pas? These damned 


Germans are going to get what's coming to them. Why, 
they've treated me like a dog, sir. They've bullied and 
hectored and abused me, because I wouldn't tell them the 
news. They'll cool their heels in prison while this war 
lasts, I hope. Hurrah! Vive la France!" 

A little white boat appeared at the side of the stranger 
and was lowered rapidly to the water. Five minutes 
later it was alongside the " Nieuw Amsterdam," and a 
dainty French lieutenant, neat as a doll, in blue coat, 
gold braid, and ceremonial sword, scampered up the 
ship's ladder. Behind him climbed two tars who looked 
like house-painters tricked out in white overalls and blue 
sailor caps, and armed with pistols and cutlasses. 

At first it was difficult to take the capture seriously. 
The little lieutenant's sword got in his way, and he fell 
flat on the fog-soaked deck to an accompaniment of gruff 
chuckles from the German passengers. But he was on 
his feet in an instant, and he took time on his way to 
meet the Captain to remove his blue-and-gold cap and 
bow gracefully to a pretty lady who was watching. Our 
ship had been a man's world until that moment the 
reservists ignored women but the first Frenchman who 
met us restored womanhood to its gilded pedestal with 
a single bow. 

The conference in the Captain's office was brief. Our 
papers were seized, the wireless apparatus was dis- 
mantled, the marconi room sealed, and the ship and all 
on her were declared prisoners of war. Captain Baron 


was asked to leave his office and the bridge, and the 
dainty little lieutenant assumed command. 

The cutter next brought a detail of marines, armed 
with rifles, fixed bayonets, and pistols thrust into wide 
black belts. The armament was impressive, and it was 
disquieting to think of the havoc one fool might cause; 
but the faces and bearing of the marines were most 

It was not until evening, however, that we made a 
startling and reassuring discovery regarding our warders. 
My friend, Dr. van Loon, who was in constant demand 
as interpreter, and who changed from English and 
Dutch to German and French without shifting verbal 
gears, was in quizzical conversation with the master at 
arms in charge of the detail of marines a fat, sedate 
little Frenchman, wearing a huge medal for service in 

"Who are you?" he asked the Frenchman. "Who 
are you, I mean, when you aren't capturing Dutch 
steamers on the high seas ? " 

" I am steward of ' La Savoie/ monsieur." 

"You are what?" 

" Head steward of ' La Savoie/ monsieur. I have 
charge of the dining-room." 

" Ye gods ! And what about these fellows you have 
charge of here these fellows with guns and bayo- 

" They are stewards, also, monsieur." 


" Gott strafe stewards ! And do you do this sort of 
thing often?" 

" Pardon, monsieur? " 

" Do you often capture ships and put prize crews on 
board of them ? " 

" Monsieur, I will tell you the truth ; you are our first 
capture! But it is pleasant capturing ships; pleasanter 
than being always a steward; n'est-ce pas?" And he 
beamed amiably. 

Morning passed, and still we lay where we had first 
been arrested. " La Savoie " grimly circled round and 
round us, trying to train all her seventeen guns on us at 
once, but still we did not move. Wild rumors of our 
fate spread like fire about the ship, but the little doll-like 
lieutenant sat in the Captain's office and waited patiently. 

" Why are we waiting? " he was asked. 

" Orders from Paris, messieurs." 

" Then where shall you take us? " 

"I do not know." He shrugged his shoulders elo- 
quently. " Maybe Cherbourg, maybe Brest." 

" And how long will it take us to get to Cherbourg? " 

"I do not know." Another shrug. "Maybe three 
hours, maybe five hours, maybe twelve hours." 

" For the Lord's sake ! And then what are you going 
to do?" 

" We take you off." 

One of the German officers spoke up insolently. " Mon- 


sieur," he drawled, " Cherbourg is not far from Paris, 
is it? We shall get there in time to join the German 
armies marching in." 

The lieutenant smiled placidly. "We take you off," 
he repeated. " Orders from Paris." 

Days afterward we learned that during those heavy 
hours when we lay at sea under the guns of "La 
Savoie " Paris had ceased to be the capital of France. 
The encircling Germans were close. Archives, records, 
and the Government itself were removed to Bordeaux, 
and the armies and the shell of Paris awaited the in- 

After noon we were ordered to proceed to Brest, so, 
with " La Savoie " leading the way and covering us with 
her wicked stern guns, we steamed slowly southward 
over the summer sea. It was night when we anchored 
off the harbor entrance. Through soft evening haze 
two lighthouses winked drowsily at us, and a pale moon 
looked down in sympathy. It had been a hard day. So 
small a thing as the pounding of a salt-cellar on a table 
in the dining-room at luncheon brought us to our feet 
as if we were shot. Lame little Hans, clumping along 
the deck, alone seemed untroubled by the general misery. 
In the afternoon I strolled into the smoking-room to 
find that haven of masculine comfort occupied by one 
German, and he playing solitaire. 

But the Dutch stewards and some of the crew seemed 
actually to enjoy the situation. In a week the German 


passengers had made themselves almost universally un- 
popular. They abused the stewards, quarreled with the 
Captain and Purser, and wrangled among themselves. 
They insisted on maintaining small, mutually hostile 
groups, apparently based on military or nationalistic 
lines. Hungarians, Austrians, Prussians, and Bavarians 
flocked by themselves, but all united to despise our Dutch 
hosts. In retaliation, the stewards were quick to strike 
up acquaintance with their French guards, and at night, 
as I passed the drying-room on Deck " C," I overheard 
the tailor and his helper gaily whistling the " Marseil- 


At nine o'clock some of us were standing on the boat- 
deck of the " Nieuw Amsterdam " when suddenly a 
searchlight blazed out of the darkness and fingered 
rapidly along our decks and superstructure. What 
made the light most interesting was the fact that it was 
borne over the water at extraordinary speed and in our 
direction. It came like an express train in a vast and 
splendid curve, probing us every instant with its calcium 
glare, till ropes and spars and davits lay bare to its gaze. 
The light was very close now, and we could see a vague 
snaky hull and two small black stacks. 

" Torpedo-boat ! " muttered a reservist. 

The little craft tore along behind, then around us- all 
the time examining us with her searchlight. Suddenly 


the light snapped off, and we were left in Egyptian dark- 
ness, straining our eyes after the vanished ship. 

A few minutes more, and little bunched lights, like 
clusters of fireflies, appeared in three directions at once 
drawing toward us. They slid across the calm summer 
sea like water-skaters across a pond, and there was some- 
thing so ethereal, so ghostly about them that it seemed 
impossible to imagine that they were instruments of 
destruction. They ranged about us, two or three thou- 
sand yards away. A hoarse voice began a megaphoned 
conversation. Another voice coughed back a brief an- 
swer. A glaring searchlight flashed on and examined 
us again nook and cranny, wireless apparatus and water- 
line. Then the bunched lights began to flash off and on 
in rhythmic order, changing colors as they flashed : red 
red yellow red yellow yellow. The torpedo-boats 
were signaling. 

One of them drew closer to us, and a megaphoned 
voice retched out a query and was answered from our 
bridge. The firefly lights flashed new signals; then the 
boats ranged about us one dead ahead, one astern, one 
on either side and the " Nieuw Amsterdam " steamed 

" Damned little French rowboats ! " grunted a reser- 
vist near me. "You should see our High Seas fleet," 
and he leaned across the rail and began to explain to me 
the superiority of the German craft. 

I left him abruptly and went to find the Captain, for 


an uncomfortable thought had just occurred to me and 
I longed for confirmation of my fears. " We're going 
over mine fields," I said to myself. "If one of the 
mines has happened to get loose from its anchorage, 
pfzzt up we go! The night is black as ink, and there 
are just four torpedo-boats to rescue more than a thou- 
sand passengers and the crew ! " 

"No. It is the other way round," said Captain 

" How do you mean? " 

" The boot is on the other foot. It is not the French 
mine to be afraid of, but the German mine. There are 
no mines here at the entrance of the harbor of Brest, but 
the French have found floating mines in the Bay of Bis- 
cay, and they say German passengers on neutral vessels 
have sown them. 

' You have not a mine with you ? " He looked at me 
smilingly. " That is good. The torpedo-boats turn their 
searchlights on the ship for fear the Germans sow mines 

A tall, angular Prussian officer with whom I had struck 
up an acquaintanceship joined me on the hurricane deck 
to watch the ship's manoeuvring. His right cheek bore 
the purple welts of rapier scars and he stood erect as a 
pine tree, peering into the darkness ahead. 

" It will soon be over," I said. 

" Ja" he answered. After a pause, some shaft of feel- 


ing seemed to pierce his temperamental armor-plate, and 
he began to tell me of his experiences as an officer in 
the German army. " Uhlan officer ten and one-half 
year," he went on in English. " Now I am prisoner, 
without the fight. It will be hard. It will be hard for 
all, nichtf but most hard for me, I think. Harder 
than for those others. You see, I am officer; I am in 
the regular army ten and one-half year; nichtf The 
others, they are only reserves. It do not matter for 

His face lightened suddenly with a new thought, and 
he turned to me with animation. " But in prison I am 
better off as them. I am officer, nichtf And in the 
prison the German officer gets same pay as French offi- 
cer in the battle. French officer in German prison, he 
gets same pay. So I do not have to work. Maybe I 
report once a day; write my name down on a paper. 
The others must work. Not so bad for me, nichtf 

"And not long, either. We take Paris, nichtf The 
war is over in six weeks. Then we take London. Then 
we sign the peace. A short war, nichtf" 

" Perhaps," I said. 

"If it is long, then I am better here as in England. 
Brest is not so far from Paris. I know all France. I 
escape from the prison, nichtf I get so to the German 
army, and am officer of Uhlans. Ach f that is fine, fine; 
nichtf " 

Half an hour later our flotilla had passed the black 


cliffs on either side of the channel and was in the har- 
bor. Like pinpricks of yellow light in a misty screen, 
the distant city of Brest appeared. Passengers stood in 
awed silence on the decks of the " Nieuw Amsterdam." 
It was a cruel contrast with our departure from New 
York, and we were full of fears and hopes and wonder. 

Two young reservists leaned side by side against the 
rail. They had their arms about each other, and once I 
saw the younger rest his head for a moment on the 
shoulder of the other. It was the only bit of tender- 
ness I noticed during the time I was with the reservists. 

We slid slowly on over the calm water. One by one 
our torpedo-boat escorts flashed their signal lights for a 
moment, and then made off into the darkness. Ahead 
of us loomed the black bulk of " La Savoie " at anchor. 
We moved slowly toward her; then around to one side. 
The propeller ceased churning. There came a yell from 
the bridge, " ' L'ancrel", the splash of a heavy weight 
and the wrenching grind of chains as they slid over 
the side. Then silence fell, and we lay at rest in the 
moonlight near the black silhouette of our captor, under 
the guns of Brest and prison. 


After the cool freedom of the voyage the confinement 
and midsummer heat of the harbor were almost unen- 
durable. There was nothing to do but walk and talk. 
We were reduced to a democracy of misery. All morn- 


ing long a snaky blue-black torpedo-boat circled about 
us, and flotillas of destroyers and submarines glided past 
on their way to the open sea. Guns peered down from 
fortifications fringing the hills above the harbor, the 
seven picturesque Norman towers of Brest suggested 
nothing but prison walls and donjon keeps, and on the 
decks of the " Nieuw Amsterdam " stood groups of 
dour-faced marines and gendarmes, for the ex-stewards 
of "La Savoie" had been replaced by stout Breton 
guardsmen. We were prisoners, and we were made to 
feel it. 

Immediately after noon we were notified to prepare 
to leave the ship at once. Only Dutch citizens and the 
women, of whatever nationality, were to remain on 

All restraints melted away. A Bedlam of emotions 
seized the passengers. No one in the ship was sane. 
Frantic women walked the decks weeping, and the lips 
of many men were bleeding, half-bitten through in the 
effort to keep back curses and tears. Our ship and all 
her cargo were said to be confiscated; Holland was 
rumored to be on the verge of war with France; the 
women were reported to be prisoners of war like the men 
and were to be interned in a Breton fishing village until 
the end of the war. Under orders from the French offi- 
cers in charge of the ship Dutch stewards herded the 
male passengers on deck and left them, surrounded with 
hand-luggage. Some wrote farewell letters, resting the 


paper on their knees or on the backs of valises. The 
few whose wives were on board were half -crazed with 
horror at thought of the inevitable separation, and, what 
made it hardest to bear, the women were penned in the 
dining-room where they could not see the disembarka- 

The steerage passengers went first, climbing down the 
ship's ladder to a military tugboat crammed with French 
gendarmes and sailors. One by one the men were 
searched, and their pocket knives, matches, razors, and 
other small possessions taken from them and dumped into 
wicker baskets. Their hand-luggage was passed hand 
over hand to a barge, and then the men were marched 
into another bateau, where they sat crowded together on 
benches or in the bottom of the boat. Awkward immi- 
grant bags, an English horn, a 'cello, and a phonograph 
lay in the sprawling heaps of impedimenta. The men 
kept up bravely, and when the tug panted off down the 
Bay, towing the two barges, the captives cheered and 
waved their hats to those still on the ship. 

A wailing shriek from the dining-room suddenly 
startled us. One of the steerage women, mother of six 
small children, had fainted at separation from her hus- 
band. She, like most of the women, believed the men 
were to be taken to the nearest landing-place and shot 
down by the French. She had come expecting to have 
her husband's pay while he was in the army, or to have 
his pension if he fell. There was nothing for her in 


America; there was less than nothing for her and her 
children in Holland, where they would be landed penni- 
less and friendless if the ship were allowed to proceed. 
And her plight was the plight of a score of others. But 
the men on deck could do nothing. They were drowned 
in their own misery. 

Among the second-cabin passengers was a German 
Lutheran minister about sixty years old, who staggered 
down the ladder painfully dragging a big hand-bag be- 
hind him. Gendarmes stepped forward to search him 
like the rest, but the Captain stopped them with a word, 
and then eloquently waved the old man to a seat on a 
coil of rope; not in the barge, but in the tug with the 
French officers. 

Our time came. We marched slowly down the stair; 
down under the sweetly smiling face of Queen Wil- 
helmina, powerless to protect those who travel under her 
flag; down past the frantic women in the dining-room, 
crowded to the doors, sobbing and calling good-bys; 
down past the stewards, even in those tragic moments 
anxious only for their tips; down to the French officers 
who were to decide our fate. Each of us had grown 
colossally selfish. The only problem which mattered 
was, " What are they going to do with ME ? " 

Five of us were American citizens. We had little in 
common but our citizenship, yet that bond suddenly bo- 
came stronger than anything else in the world. We kept 
close together as we marched down the stair. We were 


determined to fight the matter out as a group. We were 
free-born Americans, we told ourselves. We were not 
to be ordered off any ship. We would go when we were 
ready, and not an instant before. We would fight, if 
necessary. Those Frenchmen would have to take us off 
at the bayonet's point, if they took us at all ! . . . It was 
all very childish, no doubt. 

The foremost officer looked quickly at our papers, 
bowed courteously, and waved us back. " You are not 
to go, gentlemen," he said. 

We ran back upstairs in a frenzy of selfish joy. It 
was like a reprieve from a sentence of death; as unex- 
pected and as precious. We were a handful of lonely 
passengers now. Already the barges were moving away, 
and the prisoners were calling good-bys and waving. 
The women were released from the dining-room and re- 
joined us on the deck. Half an hour later the barges 
were little sooty specks moving far out across the blue 
waters of the Bay, and on the topmost deck were a dozen 
women and nine-year old Hans watching them out of 


The French declared our cargo contraband, so that one 
million dollars' worth of silver bullion, consigned to the 
Dutch Government, large quantities of flour and tinned 
meat, and perhaps other supplies, had to be removed- be- 
fore the ship could proceed. All day we watched the 


green- jacketed Dutch crew helping French marines to 
transfer flour from the hold of the " Nieuw Amster- 
dam " to the deck of a barge appropriately named " Le 
Corbeau" the Crow. The blazing September sun 
smote us like fists from the surface of a painted sea and 
sky; the green Breton hills and the Norman towers of 
Brest were an agony of invitation to the eye, but we 
could not set foot on shore; we could not see a news- 
paper; we could not communicate with the American 
Ambassador in Paris, and there was no American Con- 
sul to whom we could appeal in Brest. The women were 
forbidden to write to the German prisoners. Yet sud- 
denly, from no one knew where, came news. 

" They were taken to Devil's Island. One was shot 
on the way. A French marine said so!" Rumor, like 
a hot wind, ran through the groups on the ship, 

As the day waned, a second barge drew alongside the 
" Nieuw Amsterdam." We watched its approach in- 
differently, when suddenly there came a woman's wail, 
horrible as keening for the dead. " My husband is 
there ! " she screamed. " My husband is in that barge ! 
He is there! He has come back! He has come back! 
Oh, why has he come back? What are the French go- 
ing to do with him? " Her hysteria swept all the passen- 
gers. Women crowded the ship's rail, sobbing and call- 
ing, and men standing in the barge beneath answered 
and waved their handkerchiefs. 

We waited breathlessly. Seven hundred and fifty-one 


Germans and Austrians had been taken from the ship. 
How many were to be returned? Or were any to be 
returned? We could only wait. Then five old men and 
a boy of seventeen staggered to the deck, and we fell 
upon them with questions. " Where are the others ? " 
we demanded. Only the boy had strength to answer, 
" They are at Devil's Island all but the officers and Red 
Cross doctors. Those are down in the barge on their 
way to the penitentiary in the city of Brest. Thirty-two 
officers ; five doctors." 

A clamor of farewells arose from the barge, for the 
tugboat was puffing away. The mad wailing began 
again, and the horrible tragedy of separation was played 
a second time to the end. 

One of the old men who was returned to the ship was 
a veteran member of the Hungarian Parliament and had 
been in America just before the war broke out, repre- 
senting the International Peace movement. It was bit- 
ter irony that such a man should be prisoner of war. 
He was more than sixty years old, big, spiny, and un- 
couth, with a skin like a sun-dried cactus. He returned 
to us unshaven, dirty, so exhausted that he could not 
stand without support, and with his wide eyes fixed and 
terrible. We helped him to a steamer-chair, and he told 
in short, apoplectic gasps of what had happened to the 

" They took us to le Fret/' he began; "a fishing vil- 


lage. It is in the Bay. We were unloaded two by two. 
French fisherwomen came and cursed us. They shook 
their fists. But there was no violence not yet. Then 
a man was shot. He was a German Pole. A steerage 
passenger. He carried a little satchel with all his money 
in it. The French officer shouted to him to drop the 
satchel with the rest of the luggage. The Pole held on. 
Maybe he did not understand French. Fisherwomen 
crowded up very close and yelled ' Shoot him ! Shoot 
him!' Still he held on. The officer tried to jerk the 
satchel from him, but he held on. Then the officer cried 
out very loud, and they shot him four times. 

" After the shooting I saw his body lying in the road- 
way, but he still held his little satchel. 

" Then we were marched four miles, very fast. The 

younger men could do it, but the old men ! One was 

a Lutheran minister, sixty-one years old, very heavy, 
and he soon had to stop. The soldiers drove him on. 
Then two of our young men caught him by the arms 
and dragged him with them. But the old man seemed 
to be dying, so the young men left him in the road. 

" It was dark when we had done our four miles. In 
front of us was a black fortress named Crozon and a 
causeway over the sea. We had to run into the fort. 
We were told off into squads of sixty-six and put into 
bomb-proof steel and concrete caves in the bottom of the 
fortress. Then they locked us in. 

" There was no light. The vault was air-tight except 


for two small windows. It was ninety feet long, eighteen 
feet wide, and seventeen and one-half feet high. The 
windows were two feet by three and one-half feet high, 
heavily barred with six railroad irons. It was horrible ! 

" There was straw on the floor. Nothing else. The 
air at first was stale. It soon became moist and foul. 
A man died. Another man was dying when we left the 
fortress today. Some of the men fought to reach the 
windows, until we organized ourselves into squads of 
tens and marched up in turn to the windows to gulp a 
clean breath. We marched all night long. It was pitch 
dark in the vault and very dirty. The night was hot. 
The stenches grew more and more frightful. . . . 
There are things I cannot tell you. You must imagine. 
We were there twenty-one hours, and the others are 
there yet. 

" They call it ' L'Ue du Diable ' Devil's Island." 

Days dragged by on leaden feet. Captain Baron made 
formal protest against the seizure of the " Nieuw Am- 
sterdam," but still we were held. He twice visited Brest 
under guard to interview the Dutch Consul there, but the 
city was a chaos of suffering. Belgian refugees begged 
in all the streets; women were in mourning; fifteen 
hundred wounded Frenchmen arrived there in a single 
day, and were hastily crowded into the small municipal 
hospitals. People lived in hourly expectation of the fall 
of Paris and the retreat of the French armies to the 


south and west. An atmosphere of tragic depression 
had seized on every one, so that it was impossible to 
learn anything definite regarding the final disposition of 
the ship. 

The reservists and other German and Austrian citizens 
were interned on September third; the flour was re- 
moved on the fourth; three hundred and ninety massive 
bars of silver, valued at more than a million dollars, were 
taken on the fifth; the maizena was seized on the sixth, 
along with six hundred tins of meat; and still no de- 
cision had been taken so far as the ship was concerned. 

Then came the magic " orders from Paris." Five 
German Red Cross doctors were returned to the ship, 
and we sailed at six o'clock in the evening of Septem- 
ber sixth. 

On the morning of the eighth we were in Rotterdam. 
Our mails were five days late, and we were the poorer 
by a million dollars' worth of silver, and a cargo of flour, 
meat, and maizena. Out of about eight hundred Ger- 
mans and Austrians, there remained only twenty-six to 
report to their consuls in Holland. Some of these were 
of military age. One of them was a German Doctor of 
Philosophy, who stowed himself in a lifeboat and lived 
there for five days on ship's biscuit and water; another 
hid himself in a small hollow in the ship's walls, and al- 
though he had lived four and one-half days without 
food or water seemed none the worse for his experience ; 
others had traveled with Scandinavian or Swiss or 


American passports, several of them being bond fide 
Americans citizens who wanted to volunteer in Germany, 
and so escaped the French. 

Seven hundred and forty were left as prisoners of war 
in Brest. 



" WHY did you Germans destroy Louvain ? " 

" Louvain ? " said the man from Mannheim. " Re- 
member Heidelberg! War is war." 

"Heidelberg?" I recalled vaguely that over a hun- 
dred years ago the German university town was burned 
by the French. "What has Heidelberg to do with it? 
This is the twentieth century." 

" The twentieth century has grown from the nine- 
teenth, and the nineteenth from the eighteenth, and the 
eighteenth from the seventeenth, and the seventeenth 
from the sixteenth. You must think in centuries to un- 
derstand Germany." 

"Sub specie czternitatis! " I sneered, quoting Spi- 
noza's famous phrase. " Under the form of eternity ; 

We were riding to Berlin on a military train which 
had come directly from the battlefields in France. A 
heavy smell of ether drenched all that one breathed, and 
waxen-faced soldiers, unshaven and dirty, crammed the 



little compartments. There was no distinction among 
first-, second-, and third-class passengers. 

A splendid young Uhlan wearing a wisp of mustache 
leaned negligently against a compartment-door, his spur 
scratching the panel. The front of his green-gray uni- 
form was a clotted mass of what seemed to be brick 
dust: it was dried blood. Infantrymen with bandaged 
heads, bandaged arms, bandaged legs or bandaged shoul- 
ders, blocked the narrow aisles and lay on the floor be- 
tween the seats. A soldier with his jaw shot through 
breathed noisily. Occasionally some one groaned through 
clenched teeth as he shifted his position. 

These men were only slightly wounded. . . . 

The man from Mannheim had never heard of Spinoza, 
but he knew his Kant and Karl Marx and the new 
Freud psychology. " You must think in centuries to un- 
derstand Germany," he repeated doggedly. 

At every station, women from the Red Cross came to 
meet the soldiers with hot bouillon, hot coffee, stretchers, 
and ambulances; and at almost every station we picked 
up new recruits, mostly officers, just being called to the 
colors. They came in brand-new uniforms with shining 
swords at their sides, invariably accompanied by friends 
who cheered them and called, " Bravo ! bravo ! congratu- 
lations ! " as the train pulled out of the station. 

In Hanover two women, who seemed to be mother 
and wife of a young hussar just starting for the front, 


were at the station to see him off. He was all smiles, 
but the women were in agony. They fought to keep 
their self-possession. The mother's fingers clawed holes 
in the handkerchief she held in her hand to wave as her 
boy left her, and the wife's lips trembled as she tried to 
say the happy nothings which would be everything in 
the world to her soldier in the field. They smiled to 
the very last minute, and when the train started and the 
young officer leaned far out of the window, laughing 
back at them and waving his handkerchief, they shouted 
after him, " Congratulations ! congratulations ! God 
bless you ! Congratulations ! " . . . 

The man from Mannheim sighed heavily. " Genera- 
tion after generation they have done that in Germany: 
century after century. Do you understand ? " 

There was an air of heroic happiness about our train. 
Every time another train passed we were cheered and 
waved at; car-windows flew open; men, women, and 
even children leaned out, calling, waving, and smiling 
always smiling. Factories and canals were idle, but the 
land was alive. Everywhere peasant women, in bright 
red, green, or yellow costumes, worked in the rich har- 
vests. Children, even six-year-old youngsters, picked up 
potatoes. Baby-carriages were common conveyances. 

Two troop-trains went by us, west-bound for France, 
and their loud " hurrrrrrahs " were electric with feeling. 
Little boys, dressed in diminutive uniforms, perfect 


even to spiked helmets and miniature swords, hung 
from the windows of houses to shake German flags in 
salute, and little girls in the turnip and potato fields 
called shrilly as we went by. It was a continuous ova- 
tion. To come home wounded was to come in triumph, 
and ether and bandages and painful mutilations were 
forgotten in the joy of such a welcome. 

So we reached Berlin. The broad platforms of the 
Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof were crowded with eager men 
and women awaiting the arrival of our train. It was a 
confusion of laughter, happy tears, the tight grip of 
hands, smiles, furtive touching of the weeks' growth of 
beard on military chins, men kissing men, and shouts of 
" Gepdcktrdger! Gepdcktrdger!" The porters forty- 
five, fifty, sixty years old, all of them hobbled about 
collecting the luggage. Red Cross workers crowded up 
to take charge of the wounded. Soldiers, in every 
variety of uniform, stood waiting for other trains; some 
of them in neat, clean, brand-new outfits with yellow 
boots that squeaked as they walked, and with sprigs of 
green in their gun-barrels ; others, just back from the bat- 
tles in East Prussia, in muddy, war-worn uniforms 
which they had fought in and slept in and traveled in 
without change, knapsacks on their shoulders, rifles at 
their hips. It was a crowd shifting like quicksilver, and 
every face smiling. Even the sixteen-year-old Spree- 
wald Mddchen in charge of the news-stand laid down 
her knitting to watch. 


Among the first to leap down from the train was a 
tall Prussian Uhlan on furlough. He had been fighting 
under von Hindenburg in the East and von Kluck in the 
West, he told us. " Such luck ! " as he expressed it. He 
bounded to the platform like an athlete, although I knew 
he was wounded; stood stiff for a moment, clicked his 
heels, saluted with an abrupt mechanical snap of the 
forearm which is the very perfection of impersonal, un- 
emotional recognition ; then flung his arms out like a lit- 
tle boy about the shoulders of a gray-bearded giant in 
general's uniform, and kissed him like a girl. 

That nineteen-year-old boy wore over his heart the 
Iron Cross of 1914. The man he kissed wore the Iron 
Cross of 1 870*7 1. . * . 

"His father^ his grandfather, his great-grandfather 
and great great-grandfather fought the French. We 
Germans remember in centuries," the man from Mann- 
heim said. 


Consciousness of history seemed the most vivid feature 
of wartime Germany. Men talked of the religious wars 
of three centuries ago as if they had been fought in our 
lifetime. They talked of Napoleon as of a contempo- 
rary, and of the sorrows of the medieval and modern 
Germanic states with the fervor and poignant suffering 
of a citizen of those bygone days. Jean Paul Richter 


or Theodor Korner have not painted the humiliations of 
old Germany with more skill and feeling than the Ger- 
man-on-the-street in 1914. It was like a loyal son 
telling of the sufferings and hardships of a devoted 

One pleasant afternoon I called on Baron von 
Nimptsch, president of the Berlin branch of the New 
York Life Insurance Company, in his offices at the 
corner of Leipzigerstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse. 

:< You cannot understand our militarism ? " he asked. 
" Listen ! Century after century the Fatherland of the 
Germans was fought over, burned over, plundered and 
pillaged over, from the time of Caesar until Prussia 
emerged to lead the Germanic Federation. Germany's 
trade history is a long history. It is no nineteenth cen- 
tury discovery. The Hanseatic merchants of Hamburg, 
Bremen, and Liibeck were famous when the English 
still were pirates. During the Thirty Years' War, from 
1618 to 1648, Germany's population fell from nineteen 
millions to four millions. Before that war we Germans 
had a culture higher than France or England. Every 
vestige of it was lost. That is the explanation of our 

"A century ago came Napoleon. The city of 
Konigsberg only recently paid off the last of the assess- 
ments levied on her in Napoleon's day. That is the 'ex- 
planation of our militarism. 


" The thought of a helpless Germany is intolerable to 
Germans. To survive at all, we have to be strong. To 
survive at all, we have to give up what you Americans 
call your ' personal liberty.* We must obey. We must 
organize. We must be ready to fight for our lives and 
the life of our country. And that is German militarism." 

A few nights later I was guest at a weekly meeting 
of one of the innumerable artistic circles of Berlin 
one of the little groups of painters, sculptors, and their 
friends who meet on Friday evenings about long tables 
in Charlottenburg for beer and conversation. Some of 
the men and women about me bore famous names; all 
had amiable, healthy, florid faces ; all were cosmopolitans 
by education and training. The men were over military 

" Prosit \ " said my host. 

Twelve of us lifted our mugs and drank solemnly. 

My nearest neighbor glanced at me and frowned. 
" Germans observe measure in everything," he said re- 
provingly ; " even in drinking beer. The first drink 
should empty the mug down to the hasp of the handle; 
the second to the boss of the mug; the third to the bot- 
tom. You have only sipped your beer." 

I liked the idea of classic measure in beer drinking, 
and we discussed it solemnly. " Measure is everything. 
Restraint. The * golden mean/ Order. Discipline. 
That is the German way," they said, when a clenched 


fist struck the table beside me a tremendous thump. My 
beer splashed from the mug, and the crackers flew. The 
fist descended again and again, and an agonized voice 
repeated " Nein! Nein! Gottl It cannot be! It cannot 

" What is it? What has happened? " I asked. 

" One of our friends, a sculptor, a member of this 
Circle. We have just heard that he has been killed. He 
volunteered three weeks ago." 

The group buzzed with unhappy conjecture. " It is 
horrible! Horrible! Ein bildlicher Mensch, a German 
genius, shot down by the Cossack, the Jap, the Indian, 
the Nigger. This is England's work. Oh, it is horri- 
ble! Horrible!" 

I realized with unpleasant astonishment that German 
discipline and restraint hid oceans of vast, wild feeling, 
uncritical and elemental; that the intellectual and phys- 
ical order of the Empire was built upon these. 

" See ! " The man at my right drew a pencil from his 
pocket and nervously sketched on the tablecloth a little 
map. " It is very small, our civilization," he explained. 
" Here is Germany, and Scandinavia, Holland, England, 
America. That is all. France and Italy have another 
culture. Theirs is Latin ; it is decaying. All the rest of 
the world is barbarisch. The Russians, the Japanese, 
Africa, Spain, South America all that is barbarisch. 
There is only this little island of our civilization, and we 
are fighting to the death to save it." 


"But France?" I remonstrated. "The whole world 
loves France." 

" France ? la grande nation is always hysterical. 
Think only of the Caillaux trial. On July twenty-sixth 
the French newspapers talked of nothing but that dirty 
case; one week later we were at war. In France every- 
thing is done with uproar and outcry immer mit Ge- 
schrei. One morning in Paris I was awakened by horrid 
noises in the street. Men screamed and fought. They 
ran in and out of the hotel. They bawled from the win- 
dows. They cursed and wrestled on the sidewalks, and 
howled immer mit Geschrei. It was all because an 
Englishman had won the Gordon Bennett cup ! " 

" And Italy ? " A strapping, sunburned artist at the 
far end of the table took up the story. He had come 
that day from Rome. " Italy is a kindergarten full of 
naughty children. They sob and squall and squabble 
like four-year olds. 

" A few nights ago in a Roman restaurant an Italian 
soldier jumped to his feet in the midst of the dinner and 
cried, ' Viva I' It alia! Viva la Serbia! Viva la Francia! 
Viva I'lngleterra! our friends! Down with the 
Tedeschi! Down with the barbarous Germans ! ' 

" I arose," the artist continued. " I took a table nearer 
the speaker, and when the excitement had died down I 
stood up close to him and called on all the other Ger- 
mans in the room to stand. A dozen big, muscular fel- 
lows got up. They were splendid! 


"'What do you think now, Signer Soldier?' I cried 
to the disturber. 

" * Ah, pardon, pardon, Signor ! I did not mean it ! 
I did not know ! ' 

" So the little fool apologized/' the narrator ended 

They had spoken of Frenchmen and Italians as a 
Southern colonel might speak of negroes. It was not 
simply the historical antagonism between Romantic and 
Teutonic peoples, it was the physical feeling of repulsion 
which a Southerner feels in discussing racial amalgama- 

In fertile ground like this the war spirit grew un- 
checked. The theaters played to crowded houses, and 
the theme was always war. "Die Waff en her!" 
" Deutschland uber dies!" " Kriegsbilden" "Mem 
Leben dem Vaterland" " Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" 
Schiller's " Wdlenstein's Tod/' and " Wilhelm Tell," 
were advertised on all the pillar posts, and I heard at 
the Deutsches Opernhaus the first performance of Engel- 
bert Humperdinck's opera " Die Marktenderin," with the 
old Prussian Marshal Bliicher as hero. 

The famous theatrical manager, Max Reinhardt, 
wished to produce Shakespeare, but considering the in- 
tense bitterness of feeling against England and things 
English he laid the matter before the German public -for 
arbitrament. The Berliner Tageblatt of Sunday, Sep- 


tember twenty-seventh, was favored with the following 
letters : 

" Shakespeare belongs to the whole world." 


" First, we are fighting the living and not the dead. 
Second, the majority of men's masterpieces belong to the 
whole world of culture and not exclusively to their father- 
land. Third, Shakespeare especially has for more than a 
century been so far incorporated in our German flesh and 
blood that we may consider him our own. Proof: any 
production of Max Reinhardt's." 

Burgermeister Geheimrat GEORG REICKE. 


But Germany's racial and historical dogmas tired me 
by their reiteration. All men thought alike, all men 
spoke alike. The intellectual mobilization was too per- 
fect. I longed for revolt and self-criticism, so I tele- 
phoned to the Reichstag to Dr. Karl Liebknecht, the 
famous Socialist leader, to whom I had letters, in order 
to make an engagement with him to talk over the Social- 
ist situation. 

The gentle-voiced telephone operator interrupted me. 
" Sie miissen aber Deutsch sprechen, Herr. Es ist ver- 
boten English zu sprechen." 

" I beg pardon, Fraulein" I answered lamely ; " but 
I don't speak German very well " 

Her answer was in perfect English. " Perhaps I can 
translate for you, sir," she said coldly. . . . 


Twenty minutes later a police-detective visited my 
room to examine my passports and papers. He was pro- 
fuse in his apologies for disturbing me, and bowed him- 
self out with deep regret for the trouble he had caused 

The incident rankled. "Why is it?" I demanded of 
Herr Nicholas Arps, as we walked down the Dorotheen- 
strasse on our way to visit soup kitchens. "Why 
do you Germans submit to so much police interfer- 

His delicate face, with the deeply graven lines about 
the dark eyes and mouth, looked at the moment like a 
saint's carved from wood in the confession-stall of a 
cathedral. Like thousands of sensitive men in all lands, 
the war was visibly breaking him to pieces. He suffered 
night and day from horrible dreams. He wanted to go 
as a volunteer, but his weak heart made that impossible. 
Besides, he was over the age-limit. But he shouldered 
a rifle daily and stood from one o'clock until five, guard- 
ing a railroad bridge in Charlottenburg. 

" We must have police. We must obey. We trust our 
Government because it is wiser than we and because it 
does better for us than we can do for ourselves. That 
is what you will see today in the soup kitchens. Your 
country is so different from ours that you do not yet 
understand the virtue of obedience. We must have 
police; we must have soldiers. 

" But where is a policeman now ? " he added. " We 


must ask our way to the Kinder-V olkskuchen. Do you 
see a policeman?" 

There was no blue-coat in sight, and I could not re- 
member having seen one since I had left the hotel. We 
were in the midst of the old Ghetto of Berlin a place 
so clean that it shone, but the poorest part of the city. 
In New York, it would have swarmed with police. . . . 
The Jews were preparing for their New Year, and all 
about us was activity and a happy stir. 

" See the prices for food and clothing," said Herr 

"They are lower than in Holland or America," I 
said, and I told him laughingly of my trunk ful of 
Erbsenwurst, condensed soups, and egg powder, which 
I had brought from America for fear I should starve 
in Germany. I could have bought them more cheaply in 
Berlin than in New York. ..." But we must find the 
way to the Kinder-V olkskuchen" 

We questioned several passersby. None could tell us 
where the children of the poor could receive free meals 
thrice a day. The need, apparently, was not great. 
Block after block we walked where formerly stood the 
most hateful rookeries in Germany. There are no 
slums in Berlin. Everywhere were clean, wide streets, 
tenements with open courtyards so sunlight and air could 
reach all the windows, and window-boxes of asters and 
geraniums to brighten the view. We wandered past the 
unfinished theater which the German Socialists are 


building the Neue Freie Folksbiihnea marvelous 
monument by, for, and of the working-people; made 
without a penny of help from the upper classes. 

" There are no more Socialists now," said Herr Arps. 
"There are only Germans." 

" And I am half inclined to think there are no more 
policemen," I retorted. " That one who visited me this 
morning was the last of his race." 

' There has been a marked decrease in crime since the 
war began." 


" But it is strange that we cannot find a policeman." 

An awkward squad was drilling behind a high board 
fence, and a sharp, high-pitched voice shouted orders. 
Over a little butcher-shop was an advertisement of fresh 
horse cutlets. The pillar posts at street corners adver- 
tised theatrical offerings and what seemed an endless 
series of educational advantages: trade schools, night 
schools, art schools, manual training schools, technical 
schools, kindergartens all as if it were peace time. 
But everywhere one felt the presence of the paternal 
Prussian state. The awkward squad consisted of the 
raw material from which the Imperial armies are made ; 
the butcher-shop was regulated by the State; the the- 
atrical offerings were censored by the State; the schools 
were subsidized and coerced by the State. The Kaiser's 
photograph, and cheap post-cards of Kaiser, Kaiserin, 


Crown Prince, Bismarck, Hindenburg, Hasler, and 
Zeppelin were in almost every window. Confectionery 
shops were arsenals of sweets, where candies shaped like 
cannon balls, shot, cartridges, bullets, and packed in 
boxes decorated with the national black-white-and-red, 
or made in odd shapes like Uhlans' helmets or forty-two 
centimeter shells, could be bought at astonishingly low 

It was nearly half an hour before we caught sight of 
the familiar blue uniform of a guardian of law and 
order. He knew exactly where we should go; in fact, 
he took us to the door. On the way we remarked on 
the lack of police protection. " Yes," he said, " the peo- 
ple are good. We do not need so many policemen. Ger- 
mans are comrades and brothers." 

The Kinder-V olkskuche was about an open courtyard, 
behind a diminutive lawn decked with formal flower- 
beds. Its dining-room was tiny but immaculate. Only 
eight children were being served as we talked. The 
women in charge explained that there was provision for 
many more, but there was no need. " It is as in peace 
time," they said. 

In a nearby beer garden, beside a huge brewery, we 
found a Red Cross soup kitchen for adults. One hun- 
dred and fifty men, women, and children stood in line at 
the door, where a volunteer worker passed them inside. 
The children and some of the women carried pitchers in 
which to take the provisions home. Most of the adults 


ate inside. They were surprisingly neat and clean ; their 
pressing poverty obviously was new. Yet I learned that 
sixty thousand were then being fed in Berlin, and that 
in peace time the number is about thirty thousand. 

Upstairs we went with the line of the destitute. Each 
of the women and most of the men bore with them little 
books in which stamps were affixed for every day the 
man of the house had been at work. The day when the 
stamps left off was usually the day when charity began, 
for the poor have no opportunity to lay up reserves in 
Germany or anywhere else. They accepted the prof- 
fered help cheerfully and as their just due, without ob- 

The director of the soup kitchen was Herr Held, a 
Reichstag deputy; big-boned, healthily florid, and as 
proud of the kitchen as a father of his household. His 
helpers were women volunteers. In Germany the role 
played by women of the leisure classes did not seem im- 
portant. Knitting for the soldiers, nursing, and amateur 
relief work alone seemed to be allowed them. Herr 
Held and his assistants ate with the soup line, and Herr 
Arps and I joined them at a little table with a heaping 
platter of liver hash, boiled potatoes, a thick slice of 
bread, and a glass of water. 

" But you have no police here," I remarked. 

Herr Held beamed at me as he dipped into his hash. 
" Not since the beginning of the war," he said. " See, 
all is clean and quiet and orderly. We have forty-five 


hundred people every day, but never a disturbance. That 
is because of the war. Rich and poor, we are one; all 
Germany is one ; there are no more Socialists ; there are 
no more revolutionists. Germans all are sisters and 


Berlin, the flat-faced, heavy, portentous parvenu 
among cities, was completely possessed by the devil of 
war. The mark of the sword was on everything. 
Among the quiet, serious crowds which thronged the 
downtown streets during afternoons and evenings, and 
which overflowed into a few uptown avenues, every 
fifth man was a soldier. And the civilians never tired 
of the sight. They paid each uniform the flattering at- 
tention of staring as if it were the first they had ever 
seen. There was worship in their eyes. All sorts and 
conditions of men strode by in uniform: Prussian gen- 
erals, in gold and gray and blue; a haggard military 
doctor, just come from the hospitals and still smelling of 
ether; dirty, tired infantrymen, just back from the firing- 
line in East Prussia, limping along in the gutter; a 
Jdger in Alpine green uniform, with a green feather in 
his peaked cap ; aristocratic hussars in uniforms of blaz- 
ing red, marching along erect as automatic dolls ; an offi- 
cer of the famous Death's Head Hussars, a white skull 
grinning down from his black shako, and the cords across 
his breast pulsing as he walked ; companies of drab, mid- 


die-aged Landsturm marching down the street; a crack 
regiment of the Guard doing the " goosestep " at the cor- 
ner of Unter den Linden, and smacking the pavement un- 
til the streets echoed like a forest under volley fire; a 
squad of Red Cross workers marching in civil dress, each 
wearing his little white-and-red arm-band and each carry- 
ing a tiny satchel ; cavalrymen riding by like centaurs on 
coal-black horses ; a new regiment off for the railway sta- 
tion, with band blaring and colors snapping in the wind ; 
an adjutant in a gray military automobile with a horn that 
boomed like a cannon ; wax-faced convalescents, by, ones, 
twos, half-dozens, dozens, walking the streets to get the 
air, limping painfully or guarding a bandaged arm or 
shoulder or head from the jostlings of the crowd. Then, 
like a travesty of all these, twenty small boys, in impro- 
vised uniforms, with spiked caps, wooden swords, and 
an ingenious wooden cannon mounted on a gun-carriage 
which would lower and raise and pivot about like a real 
field-gun, marching down the Friedrichstrasse with 
patriotic flags and a drum. 

If two soldiers talked together in the street, they im- 
mediately attracted a circle of respectful listeners. If a 
single soldier walked along in the gutter where the side- 
walks were overcrowded he was made immediately the 
cynosure of all eyes. Street-cleaners and 'bus-drivers 
made way for the soldier ; pedestrians nudged each other 
to give him room; in the restaurants he was given the 
best place. And all these attentions seemed to be un~ 


conscious; certainly they were ungrudging. They were 
given as if the German soldier were obviously a superior 
order of being. 

I was walking down Dorotheenstrasse one morning 
when I saw the street crowds gathered on the curbs and 
looking upward. There was a soft purring sound in the 
air a new theme introducing itself into the staccato 
music of the traffic but the sea-blue sky was empty. 

Then I saw the German army of the air. A tre- 
mendous amber-colored nose pushed its way across the 
heavens, thousands of feet above our narrow canyon of 
street. The nose became a face eyeless, mouthless, ex- 
pressionless but still a face. The face became a head, 
and the head a great golden body, like the woodcuts of 
Leviathan in old family Bibles; then the Zeppelin sailed 
into full view. 

A Bavarian soldier standing beside me turned his 
head away and caught my eye. His face was radiant 
with happiness. He grabbed me impulsively by the 
shoulder. " God ! " he said, and I know the oath was 
a prayer; " It's beautiful! It's beautiful! And you can 
bet your life it will blow hell out of anything the Eng- 
lish have!" 

One night I was walking near the Dom the mon- 
strous cathedral which stands opposite the Kaiser's 
palace when I noticed a large crowd gathered about one 
of the exits. At least five thousand men and women 

A war game in Berlin. 

Attacking the trenches. 


were thronged on the marble steps, overflowing on to 
the sidewalks and streets, and all standing in absolute 
silence, waiting. Their faces were turned toward the 
church porch, where the big yellow eyes of a waiting au- 
tomobile stared out at them from beneath a marble arch- 

There was a stir in the dusk of the porch. An auto- 
mobile horn, deep-toned as the bass in a cathedral organ, 
boomed out, and the car began to move down upon us. 
The crowd slowly made way. Men bared their heads, 
still silent. A large woman, veiled to the eyes, sat 
in the tonneau, bowing stiffly to right and left as the 
car crawled down the drive. 

" Die Kaiserin the Empress," whispered a woman in 
front of me, never taking her eyes off the figure in the 
car. A moment later, and the crowd was dispersing as 
quietly as it had assembled. 

There had been no display of enthusiasm ; not so much 
as a cheer. It might have been a religious procession 
which had passed. The Empress had been like Augusta 
to the temple, praying for the success of the German 


To such a people its army was an instrument, keying 
up the machinery of civilization, giving direction and 
purpose to myriads of whirring wheels. The army was 


an essential part of a conscious universe of order, 
a universe in which civilized society has con- 
stant drastic work to do, the work we call " civiliza- 

Against such a background, war was a world grown 
plastic ; but wars were only recurring incidents in history. 
The killing, the maiming, the robbery and rape were 
only a small part of warfare. Relatively few had even 
the chance to become beasts. Relatively few actually 
served on the fighting-line. Wars are actually fought 
by minorities; wars are made by whole peoples. 

The mobilization and drilling of noncombatants was 
just as important to the German mind as the drilling of 
soldiers. The whole strength of the people must be 
thrown into the balance. The Germans launched armies 
as one launches ships, full of profound faith that they 
would return to port bearing all that the nation desired. 
Even their jingoism seemed moral. They shared none 
of the common Anglo-Saxon feelings that war is a dirty 
business, soon to be finished, hands washed, and apolo- 
gized for. They felt none of the mixture of pride and 
shame which made my English friends say, " We'll mud- 
dle through it somehow, I suppose." The year 1914 was 
called by the Germans " The Iron Year/' and the war 
they called the " Folk War." Every German knew the 
object of the war. It was to fulfil the destinies of the 

Significant of this was the constant recurrence of the 


phrase Die Zukunft the Future. Magazines and news- 
papers teemed with it, and always in the German future, 
as in the present, war had a prominent place. War was 
" the father of all and the king of all." When Germans 
spoke of a " lasting peace " they added, " a peace for 
forty years." Now it is already more than forty years 
since 1 870*71, but with the typical German habit of 
thinking in centuries the seers were already anticipating 
I 954> when the old sad round would begin again and 
the nation would draw a step nearer to its sky-topping 

But Germans wondered at their own unanimity. 
Quietly, irresistibly, all life, all thought was warped to 
the one end of making war. The Odeon Werke, a small 
phonograph factory which I visited, was turning out one 
hundred shrapnel shells a day ; the canning factories had 
accumulated stocks to supply the armies for four years, 
yet they were working at maximum capacity. I talked 
with Herr W. Tiirke, manager of the immense Eckert 
Plow Factory, makers of agricultural implements, three- 
fourths of the product of which is commonly sold 
abroad. " We make nothing but munitions now," he ex- 
plained. " Our machinery was specially designed so 
that it could be transferred at once to munition work. 
There is no such thing as that anywhere where private 
enterprise persists. Government officials are absolutely 
in charge of my factory, and they are turning out 
grenades, shrapnel shells, bombs, pressed-steel trucks, 


and ammunition transports. You see, we Germans or- 
ganize victory." 

Another day I spent with Herr Konsul Marx at 44 
Charlottenstrasse, learning how the Germans withdrew 
their financial deposits in foreign countries before the 
outbreak of the war and thus were not " caught nap- 

" Germany foresaw everything," he concluded. 

Industry, commerce, finance, as much as ammunition 
and armies, were looked upon as the property of the Em- 
pire. And much the same attitude was observable toward 
the Kaiser. Germans looked on him as an asset, person- 
ally and politically. I remember one half-humorous con- 
versation in which I upheld the republican ideal and con- 
demned the imperial. 

" We must have the best men in the administration of 
affairs," agreed the German. " You Americans get 
them in a republic, we in an imperial form of govern- 
ment. But remember that if Germany became a republic 
tomorrow we would go to the polls and elect as president 
Mr. William Hohenzollern. Don't laugh! He is our 
greatest man. He understands us, and we understand 
him thoroughly. There is an immense advantage to a 
people in watching their ruler from the cradle to the 
throne. You can never know your American presidents 
as we know our German Emperor." 

It is this same historical sense of the Germans which 
led them to the theory of the defensive-offense the 


military theory that one must strike the enemy before he 
is prepared in order to defend oneself against him. And 
it was the acceptance of this theory by Socialists and 
monarchists, laborers and capitalists alike which enabled 
the German Empire to launch upon a sleeping world the 
war it had prepared. 

But the silence of the Socialists seemed a profound 
mystery. The German Sozialdemokratie had been fight- 
ing Prussian militarism for years. Hardly an election 
passed without increases in the strength of the Social- 
Democratic party, in spite of appallingly unjust laws di- 
rectly intended to keep a large part of the laboring class 
disfranchised and in spite of a Socialist Code which 
hampered the spread of the movement by bullying its 
press and breaking up its public meetings. When the 
war broke out the German Socialists had one hundred 
and twelve deputies in the Reichstag, all of them, like 
their Socialist brethren the world over, pledged to 

On August first Socialists were called to the colors, 
like everybody else; and they responded without a dis- 
senting voice. On August fourth the Reichstag Socialist 
bloc voted for the war budget, and went so far as to 
cheer at the toast, "Long live His Majesty, the Kaiser; 
the people, and the Fatherland! " Eight days after the 
mobilization the Imperial Union for Fighting the Social- 
Democrats a powerful organization, having locals in all 
parts of Germany, and organized by a general in the Im- 


perial army for the one purpose of annihilating the So- 
cialist movement this powerful Union disbanded, de- 
claring that there were no more Socialists to fight; that 
all now were Germans and brothers ; and that it was giv- 
ing its books, its money, and its office furniture to the 
Red Cross. 

Vorwarts, the daily newspaper published by the So- 
cial-Democrats, which had always been anathema to con- 
servative Germans, and which had never been allowed 
on news-stands in public places such as railway stations, 
subways, and hotels, now appeared on these news-stands 
cheek by jowl with the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger the in- 
spired organ of the German Government. 

On my way to see Dr. Karl Liebknecht at the Reichs- 
tag I stopped at the Central Hotel to see if I could buy 

" We haven't it today, sir," said the clerk. 

" But you have it on other days ? " 

" Oh, yes, sir." 

" Well, why haven't you the paper today? Have you 
sold all your copies ? " 

" No/' the clerk explained ; " the Government forbids 

"Forbids you to sell it?" 

" Oh, no, sir. The Government has forbidden Vor- 
wdrts to appear at all ! " And he handed me a folded leaf- 
let on which was printed in large letters : 


To the Subscribers of " Vorwarts": 

The Commander-in-Chief in the Mark sent us the follow- 
ing notice Sunday evening at 9 o'clock : 

" The appearance of Vorwarts is hereby forbidden until 
further notice." 

(Signed) VON KESSEL, 
Berlin, S.W. 68, Lindenstr. 3. 

28 September, 1914. 

Editor and Manager of Vorwarts. 


The first floor of the Reichstag was full of refugees 
from East Prussia and volunteer officers administering 
relief. It was quiet and reverential as a funeral. There 
was something strangely dead about the Reichstag. As 
I went up to the office of Deputy Dr. Karl Liebknecht 
I passed a series of little cells with doors marked 
" Polish Party " and " Social-Democratic Party "cata- 
combs of ambitions and hopes. 

But there was nothing deathlike about Dr. Karl 
Liebknecht. Son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, the famous 
revolutionist of 1848, his own record has been as lively. 
In 1907 he was sentenced to serve eighteen months in 
prison for high treason because of his book Militarism 
and Anti-militarism. In 1908 he became a member of the 
Prussian Diet; in 1912 he was elected to the Reichstag, 
where he rapidly assumed a position of leadership among 
the Socialist Deputies; in 1913 his charges in the 


Reichstag led to scandalous revelations which touched 
even the Imperial Court and the house of Krupp. 

I remember him chiefly as a dark round face, semi- 
circled by the sort of black ringlets which come from a 
hair mattress; not a keen face at first glance, not the 
face of a man of action apparently; a sort of pro- 
fessorial, cloistered, comfortable face. One felt like 
talking over the college courses one might take in the 
next semester rather than discussing the affairs of the 

Then Dr. Liebknecht began to speak, leaning forward 
over the little table in his private office. His voice was 
very musical and very gentle. He spoke German in a 
way to soften all its angles, but what he said contradicted 
the delicate tone in which he said it. 

" It is a war of lies." He looked me straight in the 
eye. " Every nation concerned lies. The German news- 
papers lie as a matter of course. When the war began 
the Socialists were fully aware that it was due to the 
capitalistic incentive of Austria-Hungary. We held 
dozens of protest meetings here in Berlin. Vorw'drts 
published stout editorials. We had demonstrations 
against the war. Then came the censorship. We could 
do, we could say, nothing." 

"But why?" I asked. "Americans expected you to 
do a great deal." 

" You do not understand the power of the censorship," 
he said quietly. " You Americans cannot imagine the 


awful power of the military. In one day, in one hour, 
we were cut off. Every man became like a separate cell 
in the body politic. Every man was isolated with his 
own thoughts or else he was drowned in the flooding 
ideas of the war. From the moment the censorship shut 
down there was no more exchange of ideas. Every 
thinking man in Germany became a mental prisoner." 

"But what is the war for, Herr Doktor?" 

" It is a war of conquest. Whatever its causes may 
have been, we know that the Imperial Government in- 
tends it to be a war of conquest. There are rich mines 
in France and Belgium. They will never be given back. 
The Government will do with them and with us just as 
it pleases. 

" It has done as it pleases with all the German people. 
I am a member of the Reichstag. The Chancellor of 
the Empire sent an ultimatum to Belgium on August 
second, 1914. That ultimatum was never reported to the 
Reichstag until August fifth. The war budget was pre- 
sented on August fourth and passed on August fifth, 
with the concurrence of all the Socialists except fifteen. 
That is abominable duplicity on the part of the Govern- 
ment. Those fifteen Social-Democrats who voted against 
the war credits were the only real revolutionists. They 
were not for reconciliation with capitalism, but for fists. 

" But they were helpless. The lying press was inflam- 
ing the people against our enemies against the Russians 
and the French and the Belgians and the English. The 


German papers were flooded with stories of atrocities 
committed upon German soldiers which to my certain 
knowledge were afterward disproved but never publicly 
denied. The people were told that the Russians were 
barbarians, the French fools, the Belgians superstitious 
weaklings, and the English cowardly sneaks. 

" The causes of the war were obscure. The Socialists 
really thought that Germany could not be responsible for 
such a catastrophe. Czarism was ostensibly the issue on 
which the war began, and it was on that issue that the 
Social-Democratic bloc voted the war credits on August 
fifth. Nobody exactly understood the situation. The 
Socialists had lost their press at one stroke, for the cen- 
sorship was absolute, and so they were like sheep with- 
out a shepherd." 

" How do you feel about Belgium ? " I questioned. 

Dr. Liebknecht's voice continued in the same even, 
professorial tone. " I was in Stuttgart at the time that 
von der Goltz was appointed Governor-General of Bel- 
gium. I tried to get up a protest meeting against an- 
nexation. The military government would not permit so 
much as a public poster advertising the meeting. Indeed, 
the Government forbade meetings of any sort for any 

" But you can see that the newspapers are preparing 
the nation for the final annexation of Belgium. ' We 
have bought this province with our blood/ they argue, 
without thinking of the Belgian blood. ' We have paid 


for it with our lives. The Belgians,' they say, ' are little 
higher than brutes. They are completely dominated by 
their clergy, they are ignorant and superstitious and 
backward, they do not deserve to possess their own coun- 
try/ All such nonsense as that passes current for wis- 
dom in Germany today." 

" But what have the Socialists really done about it? " 

" Very little," he said. " Vorwarts has been closed 
twice and has had to agree in writing that it will not 
mention the class-war. Here is another example of what 
has taken place. My wife is Russian, and the war had 
barely started when my house was searched, my private 
papers were seized and carted off, and the sanctity of my 
whole establishment was violated on the pretext that my 
wife might be a spy. And in spite of the fact that I 
am a member of the Reichstag, not one word of this af- 
fair ever got into a Berlin newspaper." 

" But, Herr Doktor," I said doubtfully, " you Social- 
ists seem to us Americans to have lost a great oppor- 
tunity. Frankly, we cannot understand your attitude as 
a party. We think you have been to put it very frankly 

"You think we have been cowards," he repeated 
gravely, never taking his eyes from my face. "Well, 
perhaps we have been. Remember, the German Social- 
Democrats own property worth more than twenty million 
marks. They own printing-presses and halls and .the- 
aters and the like. You know, property makes men 


cautious. Perhaps our possessions have made us con- 
servative. Perhaps the German Socialists do not dare 
to risk all." 

Herr Karl Kautsky, the veteran commentator on 
Marx, I found on the top floor of a Charlottenburg 
apartment-house, in a little den crammed with books and 
pleasantly odorous of old bindings and printer's ink. His 
face was cameo white, and its expression scarcely changed 
throughout our talk. Only the dark eyes seemed really 
alive. His white hair and white beard looked rather 
like silken adornments for the cameo face; they seemed 
to have no relation to the personality of the old man. 

I was irritated with Herr Kautsky, and my attitude 
was frankly unsympathetic. I was irritated with his 
cautiousness and his bookishness and his air of letting 
the world go about its business. That may have been 
because Herr Bernstein was with him a keen, obviously 
Jewish " intellectual," black as Mephisto, who seemed 
anxious that Herr Kautsky should tell nothing, and 
whose every statement seemed to come through double 
lines of internal censors before it reached his lips. A 
copy of the New York radical mazagine The Masses 
lay on Herr Kautsky's table, and I took its presence 
as a good omen. I was mistaken. 

" Did you Socialists make no effort to stop the war ? " 
I asked. 

" The party did not," said Herr Kautsky. " We saw 


long ago, we German Social-Democrats, that we should 
be powerless in the event of war. The French Socialists 
thought that they could stop war. They talked of gen- 
eral strikes and immense movements for peace. We 
German Socialists knew better. We had our meetings 
of protest. There were great Socialistic demonstrations 
on Unter den Linden just before Germany declared war 
on Russia. We had stirring protests in Vorwdrts. We 
did our best to prevent the war, but we were powerless 
the instant martial law was proclaimed. Now we can 
do nothing. Vorzvdrts has been suspended. We have 
no press, we have no forum. We are heart and soul 
against a war of conquest, but we cannot even protest 
against the annexation of Belgium." 

" But why did you do nothing in the Reichstag?" I 

"What could we do?" said Herr Bernstein, speaking 
slowly and gravely in English. " The Kaiser does not 
ask permission of the Reichstag to make war. He asks 
only for money to carry on war. When the time comes 
to make peace, he will make peace without consulting the 
Reichstag, and the terms of peace will be those he ar- 

" And so you are not going to do anything until 
after peace is made?" I asked, again turning to Herr 

" We can do nothing," he repeated. " We are leaders 
without followers. There are two million German So- 


cialists in the army. That means half of our mem- 
bers are gone. No Socialist in Germany knows what 
that half of our party is thinking, no Socialist can be 
sure what those two millions think of this war. We 
cannot talk to them, we cannot even send them letters 
by the army mails. They are cut off, isolated, every 
man of them. Perhaps they may talk together by twos 
or threes, but each man is thinking alone. What do 
they think? That is the great question for German So- 
cialists to answer." 

I grew more and more irritated. The atmosphere of 
caution and inaction seemed to me unworthy a man call- 
ing himself a Socialist and an internationalist. I blurted 
out a rank criticism or two. Herr Kautsky went on, 
prompted occasionally by the watchful Herr Bernstein. 

" You are an outsider," he said. " The picture is not 
so black as you may think. For years we have been 
living under the Socialist Code laws framed by the Ger- 
man Government to prevent our meeting or reading or 
even thinking. We have learned how to convey informa- 
tion to each other secretly. Intelligent Socialists are not 
being misled by the silence of Vorivarts. Some are con- 
fused, no doubt, but not all, and Vorwdrts will do all 
it can. We have learned how to read between the 
lines." * 

1 See Appendix I, page 327. 



ON October second I was invited by the Foreign Of- 
fice at 76 Wilhelmstrasse to interview the Imperial Vice- 
Chancellor, Vice-President of the Royal Prussian Minis- 
try of State, and Secretary of State for the Interior, 
Excellenz Clemens Gottlieb Ernst Delbriick. The invi- 
tation was formal as a summons to court. The ancestry 
and offices of the minister were recounted; the place, 
time, and nature of the interview were defined; and spe- 
cial emphasis was laid upon the fact that His Excellency 
had never before discussed affairs of Empire with an 

Military automobiles in gray war-paint were flying 
about the city like hawks ; black-white-and-red flags flut- 
tered from all the public buildings; five Belgian cannon 
huddled at the base of the bronze Frederick Second on 
Unter den Linden; French machine-guns squatted in an 
irregular line before the palace of the Crown Prince ; and 
a dozen battered and dented Russian field-pieces lay in 
the gutter before the Kaiser's Schloss as symbols of Ger- 
man victory. On the window glass in the offices of the 
Lokal Anzeiger were pasted bits of white paper telling of 
new successes: von Hindenburg's advance into Russia 
and capture of Suwalki, the fighting before Verdun in 
France, and the fall of the outer forts of Antwerp. 

The plain-clothes watchman on guard at the Foreign 
Office led me into a tiny cubbyhole, where I waited while 


a cold autumn wind blew in from the beech wood 
where Bismarck loved to walk. A lithograph map of 
Germany, a plain uneasy chair, a table, a window that 
was the reception room. For the seal of the Iron Chan- 
cellor was set on the Wilhelmstrasse. The Foreign Of- 
fice was as severe and barren, as secret and as stout, 
as any medieval donjon keep. Men with iron masks 
might live there and never a word of them reach the 
outside world. The very air in the offices seemed colder 
and more mysterious than the usual atmosphere of of- 

After a quarter of an hour the door to my cell opened 
and I became one of a group of seven or eight press 
representatives, American, South American, Swiss, and 
Scandinavian the few neutrals left in the world! 
making my bow to a chubby, unctuous diplomat, Baron 
von Mumm Schwartzenstein, former German Ambassa- 
dor to Tokio. The Baron had the look and air of a suc- 
cessful British banker, but he carried the weight of the 
world on his rounded shoulders, for he was officially in 
charge of all the foreign newspaper representatives and 
of what they told and did not tell their journals. 

His office was as gloomy as an undertaker's rooms. 
A few stray, level sunbeams crawled under the low- 
drawn curtains, and sparrows chirped outside. The of- 
fice was decked with much discolored marble at door and 
hearth, and one caught a glimpse of what seemed to be 
the popular Prussian painting, a muscular and very 


blonde Briinnhilde trampling and spearing the breast of 
a very dark Latin lady. 

We were soon led to another reception hall, where we 
met the Vice-Chancellor, and were quickly seated at a 
green baize-covered table. Before each of us was a pa- 
per pad and a pencil, and a typewritten abstract of what 
His Excellency proposed to say. The gentleman before 
us was a fine-looking Prussian about fifty years old, with 
sparse hair, open blue eyes, a frank face, and a friendly 
manner. He seemed like the Dutch uncle of fiction. 

As we listened to the formal, scientific statement a 
statement like a college lecture or a seminar conducted 
by a thoughtful German professor at the head of a long 
table I caught glimpses of the whole drama of modern 
Germany. It frightened and weighed upon me like a bad 

Behind us lay a chaotic congeries of States and the 
gaunt, tenacious emergence of Prussia; the slow spread 
of industrialism into Germany; the riotous days of 1848, 
when Wilhelm First fled Berlin for the Pfauen Insel 
his Elba; not his Saint Helena. The German Empire 
slowly forged in the Prussian furnace, shaped by the 
Prussian sword; the wars of 1864, 1866, 1870-71, and 
the screaming burst of energy, industrial, political, and 
military, since the Franco-Prussian War. It was a pic- 
ture of a medieval political organization dowered with the 
enormous wealth and power of twentieth century in- 
dustrialism ; a Z Oliver ein developed into high tariff walls, 


so that the Fatherland might be industrially self-con- 
tained; skeins of strategic railways, Armadas of sub- 
sidized shipping, schools and press subsidized, censored, 
coerced; and more and more mountains of ammunition 
for a war which was sure to come. 

Then the dawn of " the day " ; the military mobiliza- 
tion, and with it the marvelous industrial mobilization. 
How the crisis in the currency was overcome at a stroke ; 
how there was no moratorium; how credit was rehabili- 
tated by the creation of cycles of new banks; how local 
and provincial employment agencies were consolidated 
into one Imperial Employment Office; how whole vil- 
lages of German fishermen were transplanted from the 
North Sea to the Baltic; how the miners from the Sile- 
sian coal fields were transported to the Masurian Lakes 
after Hindenburg's victory, to bury the hundreds of thou- 
sands of Russians sucked under in the swamps, where 
acres of swollen, festering hands were stretched to 
heaven from the stinking earth ; how minimum prices for 
grain and flour checked speculation in food; how iron 
and steel, textiles, arms, leather, and conserve industries 
were centralized and controlled by the State; how the 
German people subscribed their four and one-half mil- 
liards to the first War Loan as if it were pennies instead 
of marks and far beyond the frontiers, eastward and 
westward, avalanches of guttural-voiced men in gray- 
green uniforms, falling upon France and Russia and un- 
protected Belgium. 


A Page from a Diary 

Monday, October 5: left Berlin for Belgium. 

Tuesday, October 6: reached Antwerp; arrested as a 
spy; released. 

Wednesday, October 7: at midnight bombardment of 
Antwerp commenced. 

Thursday, October 3: at 3.00 P. M., a 12.09 c.m. shrapnel 
shell burst in house where I was staying, completely wreck- 
ing two floors ; nobody killed. 

Friday, October 9: Belgians and British expeditionary 
forces evacuated Antwerp. At noon bombardment ceased, 
after thirty-six continuous hours. At 2.00 p. M., German 
army entered. 

Saturday, October 10: left Antwerp on foot and walked 
through German lines to Dutch frontier. 

Sunday, October n : at 3.00 A. M., cabled story to New 
York from Rotterdam. 

FOUR days after the interview with Excellenz Del- 
briick I was in Antwerp, the beleaguered capital of Bel- 

At Esschen, a little Flemish town just across the fron- 
tier from Holland, everything was in confusion. The 
crowded railway station was vile with every imaginable 



human stench. Night and day, for almost a month, 
refugees had lodged in straw littered about the floor. 
Poverty-stricken Belgians sat hunched up in the corners, 
or sprawled full-length in the malodorous pile. Babies 
screamed incessantly. A few women wept. The eyes of 
all were red. In the dirty, narrow street behind the sta- 
tion stood fifty awkward Flemish carts piled high with 
bedding and furniture hastily flung together in the panic 
of departure. Every one was fleeing toward Holland. 

" When is the next train for Antwerp ? " 

" There is no train for Antwerp, monsieur." The 
sad blue eyes of the station agent hardened as he stared 
at me. 

" Then I must drive to Cappellen." 

" Impossible, monsieur." 

The agent whispered to some one behind him. A man 
in a faded and very dirty blue uniform, with a round 
blue cap, came out and whispered to another in the sta- 
tion. A curious group of people crowded behind me to 
listen. I could hear them stirring and whispering suspi- 

" What is your business, monsieur ? " 

" I am on official business. I must see the American 
Consul General in Antwerp." 

"You have papers?" 

" Of course." 

The group crowded close. The man in the blue uni- 
form was at my elbow, breathing hard as if he had been 


running. It was a ticklish moment. I showed the lat- 
ter half of my passport, bearing the round red American 
seal; but one part of the pass I did not show the part 
which read, " Gesehen! Gut zum Eintritt in das Reichs- 
gebiet. Haag, den //. Septbr., 1914. Gesehen. Berlin, 
28. September, 1914. Auswdrtiges Ami des Deutschen 
Reichs Pass-Bureau" stamped with the eagle-crested 
seals of Germany. 

The harassed ticket-agent and the bystanders were 
convinced. They murmured approvingly, "American! 
Mynheer is American ! " There would be a train for 
Antwerp, perhaps at three o'clock, perhaps at four, per- 
haps at five. Who knows? Monsieur could wait where 
he would. 

This was war I thought : sordid, unhappy, disorderly ; 
the fearful flotsam of the floods poured out from Berlin. 
It was much more real than the mechanical perfection 
which I had seen in Germany. In Esschen there was a 
hideous droop to the shoulders of every one, as if they 
carried unbearable burdens. Only half a dozen children, 
playing noisily at soldiers with broomsticks and pans in 
the cluttered street behind the station, seemed untouched 
by the general misery. 

The train came; late, of course. There were perhaps 
a dozen passengers, all men. The little train lurched 
painfully through timid towns, past neatly cultivated 
fields and forests where acres and acres of trees had been 


cut down by the Belgian soldiers and piled in tangled 
heaps, while the naked stumps, left standing knee-high, 
were sharpened wickedly to impede cavalry charges, past 
belts of barbed-wire entanglements stretching as far as 
one could see, past earthworks hidden in fringes of 
woods, past beautiful old chateaux and the country- 
houses of millionaire Antwerp merchants, stark and 
empty now, past high old-fashioned bastions of forts 
dating from Vauban's and Napoleon's day. 

Twice my passport was examined by Belgian sentries, 
and twice I succeeded in concealing the German vise. 

So at dusk we jolted into the dark Central Station of 


A few oil lanterns gave the only light in the station. 
People hurried by in the darkness like ghosts; they con- 
versed in undertones. 

At the wicket I was stopped and my passport de- 
manded. This time I could not conceal the German 
vise, and the Belgian official peered at me in astonish- 

" Why has monsieur come ? " I explained that mon- 
sieur is an American redacteur an editor. The offi- 
cial was sorry, but he could not admit monsieur to the 
city. But if monsieur were determined to enter? . . . 
A group formed quickly about us, and their remarks 
were not reassuring. I explained myself clumsily. 



"Yes," said the official, "but the seal of the Belgian 
Minister at The Hague has been placed on monsieur's 
passport before that of the German Minister. The seal 
is four weeks old. Meanwhile monsieur has been in 

"True," I acknowledged, "but I am an American, 
and besides I have friends in Antwerp who can vouch 
for me." 

"Monsieur has friends? Monsieur must come into 
the station and wait for the commandant." 

My two hours' detention in the marble waiting-room 
of the Central Station was strange as hysteria. I was 
thoroughly frightened. My imagination played strange 
tricks. It tried and convicted me without mercy. It 
sported with me as cruelly as a cat does with a mouse, 
and before the bar of my conscience I pled guilty to 
espionage in its worst form, the pitiless artistic desire 
to witness catastrophes where one can be of no assist- 

Ghostly soldiers, black-robed priests, and Red Cross 
nurses flickered past me in the gloom. There was a ta- 
ble spread in a far corner with great round loaves scat- 
tered upon it, and oil lamps shedding a little glow of 
light which made it seem like a parody of da Vinci's 
"Last Supper." 

At half past seven the Belgian colonel in charge of 
the railway station came to quiz me. He stood before 
me as stiff as a statue, and as cold. 


" Your papers, monsieur ! " he ordered crisply. " Why 
have you come to Antwerp ? " 

" I am an American redacteur" 


" I am here to study war conditions." 


" You will see from my papers that I have been in 
Berlin. It was for the same purpose : to study war con- 


" I have friends in Antwerp." 

" But when were you in Berlin ? " 

" I left there yesterday morning." 

" Yesterday ! ! ! " He looked at me in amazement. 
" Yesterday? " he repeated. " The vise is dated Septem- 
ber twenty-eighth, but you were in Berlin yesterday ? " 

" Yes, mon Colonel." 

" I must send you to military headquarters ! " He 
beckoned to a soldier. " Take mynheer " he began in 

I followed the soldier through the black corridors of 
the station and out into the night. There was not a 
light in the streets, for fear of Zeppelins. Twice during 
the month of August the great air-craft had hung above 
the city and dropped bombs, and fear of them still ran 
high. The cold October sky arched over us like a cave. 
There were crowds about us. I could hear them walk- 
ing in the street and on the pavement. Occasionally I 


caught a scrap of muffled conversation in Flemish. 
Once there was a suppressed sob. Some one opened the 
door of a cafe, and there was a sudden burst of light, 
immediately extinguished as the man slipped inside. I 
heard a glass clink and a girl laugh, but I could see 

A military automobile hurriedly rounded the corner, 
and its blazing white searchlight illuminated for a mo- 
ment herds of scurrying figures on the avenue. 

Sentries challenged us in the dark. My guard talked 
with them in whispers. We passed on. . . . 

Headquarters consisted of several small, ramshackle 
buildings, full of little offices. No one seemed to know 
where I should report. I went into a little bare room, 
half full of lounging soldiers who stared at me curiously, 
then into a second, and at last to a third. There a fine 
young major, his eyes pathetically anxious, examined 
me. My guard watched in silence. 

"You have been in Berlin?" 

" Certainly. I left there yesterday to come to Ant- 


" To learn the truth about war conditions." 

"Your papers!" 

I showed my papers ; all that I had with me. 

The major evidently had had to do with other Ameri- 
cans, for his next question was, " Do you wish to see the 


" No, I do not," I said. 

The major spoke in Flemish to a second officer. Then 
he turned to my guard and addressed him in French. I 
have never heard more comfortable words. 

" It is plain/' he said slowly, " that monsieur is an 
American. But monsieur must go to the American Con- 
sul General early tomorrow morning and get a paper 
certifying that he is entitled to a pass admitting him to 
Antwerp. Monsieur may go now." And the major 
wished us a very good night. 

My soldier escort presented arms, and we marched 
out into the dark. I bade him and the sentries adieu, 
but they would not have it so. " The night is very 
dark," they said. " Monsieur might lose his way." So 
they saw me safely to my hotel. 


I woke at four in the morning. Down the gray canyon 
of street below my window a long procession of Belgian 
artillery pounded and rattled over the cobble-stones. 
For half an hour it rumbled and jolted past a line of 
dejected-looking horses and silent men. Then, when it 
had gone out of ear-shot, I heard far away the boom 

boom boom boom boom boom boom of the 

big guns in the forts. 

Automobiles full of officers, English as well as Bel- 
gian, were flying about the streets when I left the hotel 
after breakfast. Mr. Winston Churchill had paid a hur- 


ried call to Antwerp on the preceding Friday, when af- 
fairs looked darkest, and an expeditionary force had 
come from England to the relief of the Belgians. The 
force consisted of a marine brigade and two naval bri- 
gades, with some heavy naval guns manned by a detach- 
ment of the Royal Navy. It numbered all told eight 
thousand men. But the reinforcement seemed singularly 
haphazard. The First Lord of the British Admiralty 
dashed into Antwerp late in the evening with half a dozen 
armored motor-cars, arriving unheralded and unexpected 
to take charge of the situation. In the Hotel de Londres 
I met a blithe young man named Julian Arthur Jones, 
son of the English playwright, Henry Arthur Jones, 
who told me in whispered confidence that Churchill had 
brought sixteen thousand first-rate British soldiers! 

But conditions looked grave. The narrow Flemish 
streets still blazed with Belgian, French, and British 
flags, and most of the shops were open, but there was 
an alarming proclamation on all the pillar-posts, signed 
by the Belgian General Deguise. 

ANTWERP, October 6, 10 P. M. The situation of Ant- 
werp is serious. Lieutenant-General Deguise, commanding 
the fortress, has addressed this evening to the burgomasters 
of the towns in the fortified zone the following letter : 

" I have the honor to bring to the attention of the popu- 
lation the fact that the bombardment of the agglomeration 
of Antwerp and its environs is imminent. 

" It is self-evident that the menace or the execution of 


a bombardment will have no influence on the length of the 
resistance, which will be carried to the last extremity. 

" Persons wishing to avoid the effects of the said bom- 
bardment are requested to withdraw without delay in the 
direction of the north or the north-east." 

The forts of Lierre fell on Tuesday, October sixth, 
and King Albert, the Queen, and the Government moved 
to the town of Saint Nicolas on their way to the coast. 
The morning newspapers were calm, but by no means 
reassuring. People were leaving the city. They hurried 
anxiously to and fro, dragging with them hastily packed 
bundles of clothing, hand satchels, baby carriages, 
trunks, valises, umbrellas, and innumerable boxes. 
Street-cars were crammed with refugees and their 
goods, and outside the railway stations hundreds and 
thousands of people crowded together clamoring to be 
let inside. The rich left their houses to caretakers and 
departed in automobiles and carriages. The poor went 
on foot without giving a thought to what had to remain 
behind. There was almost no order; no direction. 
Wednesday's exodus was already a rout. 

Banks were mobbed by people clamoring for their 
money. The gold reserves of the National Bank were 
sent for safe-keeping to England. Shops and ware- 
houses closed as fast as they could. Hotels and cafes 
shut their doors and barricaded the windows. Citizens 
piled sand-bags against the cellar-ventilators of their 
houses as a protection against shells. People in general, 


even those who intended to remain in Antwerp come 
what might, seemed unnerved. 

In the American Consul General's anteroom on the 
top floor at number 24 rue des Freres Cellites, I found 
an excited assistant imploring everybody who called for 
advice to get out of Antwerp as quickly as pos- 

" What are you going to do ? " I asked. 

" I have to stay," he answered. " But if I were in 
your shoes, I would leave the city at once. It is going 
to be bombarded." His voice shook. 

" I came here to get your vise on my papers, so I can 
stay," I said. 

" Get out of the city at once ! " 

" But I intend to stay. Surely there will be plenty of 
people who stay." 

He stared at me as if I were a lunatic ; then he disap- 
peared into the inner offices. 

I looked up one of the Consular clerks, and she made 
out a little paper for me and stamped it with a big blue 

" Are you going to stay through the bombardment ? " 
I asked her. 

" Oh, yes," she said. " All the Consulate people have 
to stay. You'll find us here in the cellar if they shell the 

" I'm glad to know that," I answered. " I shall look 
you up. It will be pleasant to join the American Colony. 


. . . Auf Wiederseh'n" I added. " Oh, I beg pardon. 
That's German!" 


At the Belgian military headquarters things were in a 
chaotic state. Weeping women and excited men stormed 
the place to ask advice. It took me more than half an 
hour to find my Belgian major, and when I found 
him he had no time to make out the formal pass for 
me. Sentries, orderlies, and officers were worn out. 
The whole atmosphere of the place was one of despair. 
I knew that if I were arrested in Antwerp without a 
pass, I might be shot as a spy, but there was too much 
misery and anxiety at headquarters for me to intrude 

I saw two men arrested on the street outside the mili- 
tary offices. Fifteen minutes later I was told they had 
been shot against a wall. 

I was walking down street in front of the deserted 
royal palace and the rococo mansions on the Place de 
Meir, when a German Taube flew directly overhead. It 
was like a beautiful bird sweeping across the sky, but 
the sight of it terrified the crowds beyond measure. 
In less than a minute the streets were absolutely de- 
serted. Shops and banks and hallways of private 
residences were suddenly crammed with people, their 
faces blanched, eyes staring with horror, their mouths 
open. Antwerp had been terrorized by the Zeppelins, so 


that every one was afraid. The Taube flew serenely 
away, and the streets gradually filled again, but people 
walked closer to the buildings and hurried when they 
passed exposed places. 

Shops were rapidly closing. By afternoon, less than 
half of them were open, and by five o'clock in the 
evening most of the hotels had shut their doors. From 

the southeast came the incessant boom boom boom 

boom of the big guns. Bombardment was imminent. 

Hugh Gibson, secretary of the American Legation in 
Brussels, had gone through the lines carrying to the 
German General, Hans von Beseler, a chart of Antwerp 
on which were shown the principal architectural treas- 
ures, so that the German guns might spare them if pos- 
sible. Belgian soldiers by twos, threes, and half- 
dozens, weary and discouraged, slouched along the pave- 
ments. Many probably were deserters. An English 
major said that it was practically impossible to hold the 
Belgians to the trenches. They had had their bellyful of 
battle, and no wonder ! With almost no help from their 
allies, they had borne the brunt of incessant attacks from 
an invincible enemy. Rumors of a great French ad- 
vance flew about the city, and some even believed that 
the sound of the cannon portended a Belgian action in 
the rear of the Germans. But such tales could no longer 
buoy up the spirits of the troops. It was up to the 
British expeditionary forces to hold the lines, so the 
English major said. And as evening fell, whole com- 


panics of Belgian infantry and cavalry passed, all going 
westward. Troops were being drawn off from 
the forts; the officers called it "making a change of 

Red Cross ambulances clanged by bringing wounded 
to the hospitals, but those who could walk from the bat- 
tlefields straggled into the city as best they could. 

In the Hotel Saint Antoine on the Place Verte I 
found a group of American and British war cor- 
respondents and photographers. Horace Green of the 
New York Evening Post was there; gentle-voiced, ob- 
servant, and calm as a Harvard Crimson scribe writing 
up a collegiate lecture. Julian Arthur Jones dropped in, 
eager as a cub reporter on his first assignment, and ex- 
plaining to all of us what was going on. And there was 
a mysterious looking British intelligence officer named 
Montfort and a number of reserve officers, lounging 
about the lobby ; for the Saint Antoine was British head- 

" Are you going to stick it out? " asked Julian Jones. 

"Yes," I said. "Are you?" 

" My paper orders me to stay. Look at this pile of 
telegrams ; fifteen if there is one, and all came today, too. 
Bally trick, I say, to order a man to stay in this hole 
while the Germans capture it. I suppose I'll date my 
next despatch to the Chronicle from the Kingdom of 
Heaven; eh what?" . . . 

A thin-faced Westerner in immaculate riding-breeches 


and puttees came into the lobby and slouched down 
wearily into a chair. 

" Have you had anything to eat? " I asked him by way 
of introduction. 

" No," he answered listlessly. 

" Well, this hotel is closing. Come along and let's see 
what we can find. My name is Hunt." 

" I'm Donald C. Thompson," he said, " photographer 
for the New York World. Guess I'm better known in 
America now than President Wilson is. I've been tak- 
ing the pictures of this little war ! " 

I showed interest. " Are you going to stay and take 
pictures when the Germans come in ? " 

'You bet your sweet life!" exploded Thompson, re- 
covering his animation. 

" I'm staying too. But is there really going to be a 
bombardment ? " 

" Yes," he said, " you bet your hat there is ! Come 
and stay at my house, won't you? I've got a fine little 
shack with all you want to eat and a good bed. It be- 
longs to some Belgian friends of mine, but they've gone 
to Holland." 

I accepted gratefully. To exchange hotel quarters for 
a home was bliss indeed. A hotel always seemed to me 
a poor place to die in. So that night Donald Thompson 
and I went to number 74 rue du Peage, a pleasant dwell- 
ing house near the avenue du Sud, which was to be our 
fortress during the bombardment of Antwerp. A press 


photographer for the Chicago Tribune named Edwin F. 
Weigle and the Dutch Vice-Consul, Mynheer de Meester, 
shared the house with Thompson. A large American 
flag hung over the front door, and Thompson's full 
name and New York address were scrawled with indel- 
ible pencil on the white panels. 

We climbed the darkened stair and lit a match. It was 
an attractive house, but the rooms were cluttered with 
shoes, clothing, boxes, and bric-a-brac abandoned in the 
hurry of departure. The beds were unmade. The 
dishes were unwashed. In an oven of the big Belgian 
stove in the kitchen we found a soldier's uniform and 
cap hastily crammed out of sight. Jams, pickles, cured 
meats, soups, wine, mineral water, a bin of apples, fresh 
bread, and plenty of butter were in the cellar. We were 
not to starve! And best of all, the basement was a 
couple of feet below the ground level, so there would not 
be too much danger from flying fragments of shells. 

A pile of books lay beside my bed, and I glanced at 
them before putting out the lamp. They were L'Epouse 
du Soleil, Cadet la Perle, Quo Vadis, Sudermann's La 
Femme en Gris, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox's " Poems of 
Passion " ! With these incongruous spirits to guard me, 
I fell asleep with a sense of comfort and security. 



I was awakened by a tremendous roar and a shock 
which seemed to lift the house from its foundations. Im- 
mediately there came a distant boom! a shrill snarling 
whistle, then another explosion which pounded the air 
like storm. 

Boom - wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeieieieieiekkkkkkkkkBANG- 
GGGG! Boom - wheeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEIEIEIEIEIE- 
glass in the house blew out in the chaos which followed 
the bursting of that fourth bomb. It had hit directly 
across the street, less than thirty-five feet from where I 
was hurrying into my clothes. I could hear screams and 
sobs; then the sound of people rushing by the house, 
and the crash of glass which littered the sidewalks, 
splintering to bits as the people ran. But above every 
other sound clamored the continuous mad-dog snarling 
of the German shells. Boom - wheeeeeeeeeeieieieieiekk- 
kkBANG boom - wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeieieiekkkkkk- 
BANG - wheeeeeeeeeeekkboomBANG - wheeeeeeeeeee- 
ieieleboomieieikkkkkBANG - boom - wheeEEEEEEEE 
My watch read 12.05, Belgian time. . . . 

From the cellar came a frightened, unintelligible 

"Everybody all right?" I yelled, strapping on my 
belt of gold-pieces and flinging on my clothes. 


" All right ! " answered Thompson shrilly from the 
next room. " Y-yes," called Weigle from upstairs. 
And we bolted for the cellar. 

There, fully dressed even to his overcoat, was the Vice- 
Consul. His teeth were chattering. He stood ankle- 
deep in coke in a small fuel closet under the stairs, which 
we Americans had entirely overlooked in our inspection. 
A single candle-flame lighted the place. " Sh-sh-shut 
the door," he begged. " Where is the g-g-g-gas meter ? 
We must turn off the g-g-g-gas meter. It isn't safe. We 
must turn off the g-g-g-gas meter. Where is the g-g-g- 
gas meter? " The poor fellow's state was pitiful. 

To my astonishment, the cannonade gave me an in- 
tense feeling of exaltation. It was like the exhilaration 
of fever. I was convinced that we should all be killed, 
so I wrote on the walls of our cyclone-cellar the names 
and addresses of Thompson, de Meester, Weigle, and my- 
self. My senses were keenly alive to danger, but there 
was a strange joy in the thought that life was to be ob- 
literated in a mad chaos of flame and steel and thunder. 
Death seemed suddenly the great adventure ; the supreme 
experience. And there was something splendid, like 
music, in the incessant insane snarl of the shells and the 
blasts of the explosions. 

Thompson and I ran upstairs and brought down mat- 
tresses and blankets, then we all lay down side by side 
in the coke, with the flimsy door shut to keep out stray 
shells. The shell fire at first had excited ; now it seemed 


to soothe me, and I went quietly to sleep. Occasionally 
I was awakened by the Vice-Consul and Weigle arguing 
whether or not we were in the direct line of fire, and 
whether or not the last shell had burst nearer our house 
than the first. Outside, fugitives fled sobbing along the 
streets; but I slept, indifferent to them. 

Such sleep is like drowning. It has the double effect 
of a stimulant and a narcotic. Pictures of my past life 
rushed out of the dark in streams and flooded my sleep 
with bright and somber visions. I saw them, but I 
slept. . . . 

At four o'clock in the morning Thompson and I left 
the others and went out into the avenue du Sud. 
Refugees, most of them women, were hurrying by in 
every direction, half -dressed, only half sane, and horri- 
bly afraid. Many, no doubt, were crouching in the cel- 
lars, but most of the people ran. Old and young, in little 
coveys of fours, fives, half-dozens, dozens, ran along the 
sidewalks, slipping and crashing over the broken glass, 
making a terrifying and unearthly racket as they ran. 
Whenever a shell snarled unusually near, the groups fell 
cowering on hands and knees against the nearest houses. 
Women covered their heads with their shawls and waited 
breathless and motionless for the smash and roar of the 
explosion. I saw a shell burst in the avenue within a 
few yards of some of these fugitives. A woman dropped 
her baby and ran on without it. Two old men, dragging 
a heavy bundle of household goods between them, aban- 


doned it in the street and fled screaming. A priest ran 
plump into me, completely unnerved. The shell had 
struck just at the corner of the rue du Peage and avenue 
du Sud and had torn a hole through curb and cobble- 
stones and earth three feet deep and seven feet in 

In the house just across the street from ours, a shell 
had gone into the front door sill and had blown out the 
entire hallway. On our side of the street, four doors 
away, a shell had burst in the third story, completely 
wrecking the top of the building. Only a little farther 
down the street another house had been hit. From the 
south of the city rose columns of black smoke, where the 
suburb of Hoboken was burning, but so far as I could 
see there were still no fires in the principal part of 

I stood in the middle of the street and watched the 
gray sky in the hope of seeing a shell. The idea was 
absurd, yet I felt an odd sense of being cheated of part 
of the spectacle. The air seemed full of steel. I counted 
three explosions a minute: I wanted to see something. 
One could hear the shells so easily, it seemed ridiculous 
not to see them. . . . 

Belgian soldiers began to pass, hurrying westward. 
Their eyes were glassy. Often they were breathless and 
staggered as they walked. One of them pushed into our 
open door and asked me a question in Flemish. I caught 
the word " vest," and told Thompson the man was cold 


and was asking for a waistcoat to wear under his uni- 
form. Thompson brought the garment, but the soldier 
shook his head. " Kleederen" clothing, he said, and 
he showed us by signs that he wanted a whole suit. The 
rout had begun. Soldiers were deserting by wholesale 
and attempting to escape from the city in civilian dress. 
We left our front door open until nine o'clock. In 
the panic of flight some of the fugitives seemed to take 
comfort in stopping, if only for a moment, in the flimsy 
shelter of our hallway, then darting out on their aimless 
course. Once or twice I tried to talk with them in 
French, but they were beyond words. They seemed to 
be of all classes of the population: well-to-do burghers, 
dock-dwellers, servants, and peasants. 


Daylight brought comfort, but the panic continued. 
The exodus seemed endless. Little carts, wheelbarrows, 
baby carriages, Flemish milk-wagons drawn by dogs, 
two or three old cabs, and an occasional farm wagon 
piled high with goods, went by us. Old men and women, 
invalids, cripples, and young children were carried past 
in that ghastly rout. I saw a man with hideously de- 
formed feet and legs madly propelling himself along on 
home-made crutches. A wrinkled old woman came by , 
leading a cow. Dogs were howling everywhere. There 
was the incessant rattle and crash of broken glass, on the 
sidewalks and in the streets as the fugitives stumbled 


past. But one sound dominated everything. It was to 
left of us, to right of us, behind us, before us, and over- 
head. It was the smack and boom of the big guns, and 
the everlasting crazy uproar of the bursting shells. 

The air was bitter with powder smoke. Later I 
smelled kerosene. The Germans were shelling us with 
shrapnel and incendiary bombs. Fires began to shoot up 
in the heart of our section. There were heavier explo- 
sions. A fifth house in our block was struck, and the 
entire front was riddled with lead great jagged holes 
showing in woodwork and bricks and plaster. The 
house looked like a colander. 

We did not know it then, but the bombardment was 
systematic as a game of checkers. The city was blocked 
off on checker-board charts; each battery was given its 
share of work to do, its time for rest and refreshment, 
and square by square the Germans shelled. 

Hours dragged by. With methodical regularity the 
German steel was pumped into the doomed city, except 
for brief pauses once every hour, when the artillery corps 
stopped to cool the guns. It was almost amusing to 
think of the calm young Prussian lieutenants of artil- 
lery the same sort as those I had seen in Berlin two 
days before now five miles or more away from us, 
quietly and unemotionally directing that cyclone of 
shells. . . . 

Fire slackened at noon and we had visitors. Our 
front door bell jangled violently, and in came Horace 


Green, cool and collected as always, but keenly sensitive 
to the horrors of the situation. He confirmed the worst 
fears of Weigle and the Vice-Consul by telling us that 
our house was in the direct line of fire, and that no 
shells had as yet fallen in the center of the city. While 
he was talking, the door bell jangled again. Thompson 
answered this time, and I heard his piping voice raised 
in hearty greeting. " Hello, Jimmie," he yelled, " how 
are you? Come right in. Glad to see you." 

" It's Jimmie Hare James H. Hare photographer 
for Leslie's Weekly" explained Green. 

I had never met Hare, but I knew of him as the 
veteran photographer of a dozen wars; seventy-two 
years old, they said, and spry and bold as a boy. So I 
left Green and ran upstairs. Thompson had vanished 
completely. There was no sign of Hare. I went to the 
door and threw it open. A German shell whizzed close 
overhead : the bombardment had commenced again. 
The Germans had taken only half an hour off for lunch! 

But where was Hare ? 

A little gray man, about five feet tall, wearing a boy's 
cap and a brown Norfolk jacket, was hopping about on 
the other side of the street in a litter of broken window 
glass, bricks, and plaster dislodged by the shells. He 
had a small black box in his hand, and he was sighting 
it at the house. The box was a camera. The little man 
was Hare. 

"Hello! hello!" he yelled in the tone of an enrap- 


tured camera fiend. "Hold that! Fine! Hold that 
pose ! Duck your head behind the door ! Great ! " He 
pointed the camera. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeieieieieikkkkkkk- 
BOOM! ... A German shell burst only a quarter of 
a block away. Hare dodged, but kept the camera 
pointed. " Hold that pose ! " he yelled again. " Look 
scared ! " I obeyed without an effort. " Fine ! Great ! " 
he said again. Snap! the picture was taken, and we 
ran for the cellar together. . . . 

We learned from our visitors that the American Con- 
sul General, Vice-Consul, and the entire Consulate staff 
had fled from the city to Ghent. What were we going 
to do? We were going to stay in Antwerp, and we in- 
tended to remain in our house until we were burned out 
or shelled out. 

We had not long to wait. Our visitors had scarcely 
left us, and we were amusing ourselves in our little cy- 
clone cellar, when our billet arrived. I had just com- 
pleted a drawing of Weigle and the Vice-Consul lying on 
the coke. There was the familiar dull, distant boom, 
and the snarling wheeeeeeeieieieiekkk, but the blast that 
followed was exactly over our heads, and it sounded like 
all the thunders in the universe rolled into one. The 
shell had exploded directly over us. It seemed to bring 
down half the house about our ears. 

Thompson and I raced upstairs with a bucket of 
water in either hand, ready to put out any fire which 
might have started. We could not see a thing. The 

Photograph by James H. Hare Courtesy of Leslie's Weekly 

The author's head just shows in the half-open door.. 


plaster dust was thicker than smoke, and the stairwell 
was choked with debris, but luckily for us, part of the 
wall had been blown out, and the air soon cleared suffi- 
ciently for us to take stock of our situation. 

Two floors and a part of a third were completely 
wrecked; five rooms and a hall in all. The shell had 
gone through three thick brick walls. In the ruin was a 
broken couch, a smashed wardrobe, shivered mirrors, 
chairs, beds, and bed linen, a collection of stamps, a 
rosary, a crucifix, and quantities of small, intimate pos- 
sessions of no intrinsic worth, but great personal value. 
The walls were scarred and splintered. There was an 
acrid smell of powder smoke in the air, gray plaster dust 
covered everything, but no fire was visible. 

Our door bell rang sharply, and we ran downstairs to 
find our kind Belgian neighbors standing at the door 
with buckets of water in their hands, all ready to help 
us. There was plenty of cowardice in Antwerp during 
the bombardment, but I think gratefully of the unselfish 
bravery of those Belgians in the rue du Peage who were 
so ready to help the strangers. 


We hurried a second time to the top of the house and 
looked about us. Half a dozen serious fires were blaz- 
ing up in our immediate neighborhood. One of them 
seemed to be in our block. The air was calm, but the 
fires might spread. Dusk would soon be on us. If we 


intended to move at all, we ought to take advantage of 
what daylight still remained. 

We decided to move. 

I was dirty and tired, and felt a sudden longing for a 
bath. It was the last chance of soap and water, perhaps, 
for many days ; so while the others packed their motion- 
picture cameras and other belongings for the trek north- 
ward, I sputtered and lathered and scrubbed and rough- 
toweled to my heart's content. I can remember few 
more luxurious sensations in my life than that steam-hot 
bath under fire of German shells. . . . 

The streets were almost deserted when we began our 
long walk north. Smoke obscured the sky. To some it 
must have seemed like the Day of Judgment. Ruin was 
everywhere. An unbelievable number of houses in our 
neighborhood had been struck, and wherever shrapnel 
hit, half the house had been demolished. Streets and 
sidewalks were plowed and pitted. In one of the 
squares stood a statue with its arm blown off by a ball. 
Many houses and shops were burning, but no one was 
paying any attention. The water supply had been cut 
off a week before by the Germans; the fire department 
was demoralized, and a few houses did not matter when 
one's whole world was falling. 

We came out at last on the water front by the river 
Scheldt. Away to the southwest the immense Hoboken 
oil tanks were blazing, and tremendous columns of jet- 
black smoke were pouring up into the gray sky. Across 


the river, from the Tete de Flandre, a Belgian fort fired 
intermittently, and from the southeast still came the 
boom and shriek of German shells. 

Refugees were jammed along the quays, all trying to 
get across the pontoon bridge to East Flanders. We 
moved slowly along with the crowd, not quite certain 
what to do. Fate decided for us. While we stood 
watching the fugitives, the pontoon bridge closed for the 
night, and thousands of unfortunates who had stood 
in line for hours, hoping to cross, were driven back into 
the city again. As a matter of fact, a retreat was in 
progress, and the military needed the bridge. 

First they transferred the wounded. Six thousand 
five hundred in all were taken from the Antwerp hos- 
pitals to places of safety across the river. Three hun- 
dred and fifty, the worst wounded, were left to the Ger- 
mans. Down the street from the Town Hall came rock- 
ing and bouncing twenty or thirty old double-decked 
Piccadilly motor-buses. Even their familiar advertise- 
ments were still pasted on them, and their London 
destinations. They had come with the British expedi- 
tionary forces, and they were returning filled with 

Hospitals were rapidly emptied. Calm-faced nurses 
in white overalls with Red Cross brassards on their 
arms, black-robed Belgian priests, soldiers, and civilians 
helped in the transfer, and nothing was more heroic in 
all Antwerp than the work of the devoted Red Cross 


doctors and nurses who quietly removed the wounded 
from hospitals to ambulance under fire. There was 
panic in some of the wards. Mutilated men dragged 
themselves from their beds and pulled on what garments 
they could; they screamed and implored the nurses not 
to let them fall into the hands of the Germans. Some 
begged revolvers so they might shoot themselves. And 
in the crisis both the English and Belgian nurses were 
angels of mercy indeed. 

Troops followed the wounded across the Scheldt. 
When night fell, Belgians and British were marching 
over the bridge by squads and companies and regiments. 
Tugboats puffing excitedly to and fro aided in the 
transfer. The narrow bridge of boats was crowded all 
night long, and the quay below the Steen the pic- 
turesque old Spanish fortress on the river's brink was 
heaped high with knapsacks, uniforms, shoes, blankets, 
and other impedimenta of war. 

At the Queen's Hotel, overlooking the Quai van 
Dyck and the pontoon bridge, we put up for the night. 
Here we found Green, 1 Hare, Arthur Ruhl l of Collier's 
Weekly, and the British intelligence officer. There was 
a little grate fire in the hotel sitting-room, under a shal- 
low glass skylight, where we gathered and talked. Those 
hours were strangely revealing. The nerves of the men 

1 Both Green and Ruhl are authors of excellent books on 
Antwerp : The Log of a Non-Combatant, by Horace Green, Hough- 
ton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1915, and Antwerp to Gallipoli, by Arthur 
Ruhl, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1916. 


were so badly shaken they could scarcely stand. Hare 
had been arrested by a Belgian officer and narrowly 
escaped shooting as a spy; Green had had an unusually 
close shave from a shell ; Ruhl had been in the trenches 
and was worn out. Things ordinarily hidden under the 
surface of life came up that night like bubbles from a 
stagnant pool, and perfect strangers confided to each 
other their hearts* secrets. 

That night I slept in room number one in the Queen's 
not five hundred yards from the pier and the pontoon 
bridge and my sleep was troubled all night long by the 
weary tramp of beaten men, marching to the boats and 
the possible security of East Flanders. The night was 
very cold and dark, except for the ghastly light of the 
burning buildings. Antwerp had fallen. This was the 
aftermath. . . . 

That night Sub-Lieutenant Rupert Brooke crossed 
the bridge of boats. Insolent and beautiful and young, 
he marched with his men, mercifully ignorant that seven 
months later he was to die of disease, not battle, in the 
ygean. I have wondered since if he was then compos- 
ing the sonnet he called " Peace 'V 

" Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His 

And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping, 

1 This sonnet is one of five which originally appeared in New 
Numbers and may be found in The Collected Poems of Rupert 
Brooke, published by the John Lane Company, New York, 1915. 


With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power, 
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping, 

Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary, 
Leave the sick hearts that honor could not move, 

And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary, 
And all the little emptiness of love! 

" Oh ! we, who have known shame, we have found release 

Where there's no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending, 

Naught broken save this body, lost but breath; 
Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there 
But only agony, and that has ending; 
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death." 


At six o'clock Friday morning the pontoon bridge was 
blown up. It was a magnificent and terrifying specta- 
cle. Fugitives had been pouring across in the half-light 
of early morning. Later they came flying back toward 
the city as fast as they could run. The river front was 
lined with helpless hordes of people and piled high with 
things thrown away by the retreating Belgian and British 
troops. Some of the correspondents were trying fran- 
tically to engage a boat so they could get out. The 
Dutch Vice-Consul and Weigle had disappeared utterly. 
It was sauve qui peut. 

Then from the middle of the bridge came the explo- 
sion. A sheet of flame leaped from the water; there was 
a deafening roar, and a rain of fragments. The river 
was littered with wreckage. The crowd screamed and 


ran anywhere, nowhere dropped their bundles lost 
their friends and relatives fell down and clambered up 
again, all the time screaming in brute fear. 

There was another burst of flame, another roar, 
another rain of wood and steel. The bridge still hung 
across the stream, but it lay like a snake with its back 
broken. A Belgian gunboat crawled near and began to 
hammer the floating barges with solid shot. The roar 
of the discharges was practically continuous. The firing 
was less than fifty yards from us, and the leap of the 
flame from the gun seemed almost to reach the pontoons 
where the shells were striking. Two or three of the 
barges listed slowly. Several sank. The remainder 
floated, a tangle of wreckage, moored in the rapid tidal 
current of the Scheldt. 

Down the Canal au Sucre came soldiers flying from 
the battlefields. Fifty Belgians appeared, then two Eng- 
lish Tommies. Their despair when they saw that the 
bridge was gone was pitiful. I could not stay to see if 
they got across in some other way. 

For Thompson and I retrieved our kits from the 
Queen's and started off for the American Consulate. 
We were absolutely alone now. Our friends had left the 
city, and only we two were left to see the Germans come 
in. The bombardment had ceased temporarily, although 
we still could hear the booming of guns in the southern 
forts. The Belgian black-yellow-and-red flew high on 
the cathedral tower, untouched as yet. 


A few Belgians were about the streets. One of them 
suddenly threw up his hands, spun half round, and fell. 
He was dead of apoplexy before we could reach him. 

At the Marche aux Lits, a fire, larger than usual, ar- 
rested us, and Thompson unpacked his moving-picture 
camera and calmly cranked away until the falling walls 
of the shops compelled us to move on. 

The street-corner shrines of the Virgin, which one al- 
ways associates with Antwerp, were empty of their 
images; only the tinsel canopies remained along the 
Place de Meir. The Red Cross hospital was idle; the 
palace was deserted. Great holes showed in the street 
and sidewalks and there was everywhere the dreary 
wreckage of shops. 

At the Consulate we found only the Belgian caretaker 
and his wife. The American Consul General, the Vice- 
Consul and the entire staff had left Antwerp by auto- 
mobile the day before. We were not exactly proud of 
our countrymen, but in a panic no one is master of his 
actions and no one can judge another. 

Soon the cannonading recommenced, and panicky 
refugees came to the Consulate door for protection. 
That Friday morning bombardment was the severest of 
all, and did, as we discovered later, the greatest damage. 
Yet right in the midst of it there was a sound of car- 
riage wheels in the street below the Consulate windows, 
the bell rang, and up came the coolest person in Antwerp. 


"I'm Mrs. Ide," our visitor said. "I'm from Chi- 
cago, and I live here en pension. I'm not afraid of the 
Germans, but he is." 

" Who is he? " I questioned. 

" He is the man who keeps the boarding house. He's 
out there." Mrs. Ide motioned to the carriage. " He's 
the driver. He wants to be under the protection of the 
American Consul." 

We explained our anomalous status, but added that 
we thought we could do as Consul General and Vice-Con- 
sul respectively, and that in any event we intended to 
defend Antwerp from the German invaders. 

" My ! " said Mrs. Ide when we had ended this rig- 
marole. " It sounds fine to hear good ' United States ' 
again when we have to listen to so much German." 
And she pointed skyward, where the shells were scream- 

She had hardly gone when a Belgian refugee ran in 
and begged protection of the Consulate. His sister was 
American Minister Brand Whitlock's cook, he explained, 
and the poor fellow had reasoned it out that American 
protection certainly was due the brother of such a func- 

All through that unhappy morning people came, and 
we gave them what comfort we could. It was little 
enough at best, yet they were pathetically grateful, and 
I think it did all of us good to stand for an hour or two 
in the shelter of the American flag. 



At noon the bombardment ceased. It had been practi- 
cally continuous for thirty-six hours. One hundred and 
eighty-one houses had been destroyed by incendiary 
shells, thirty-one houses had been partially burned, nine 
houses totally destroyed by explosions, and five hundred 
and fifty-six badly damaged. How many people were 
killed or wounded I have never learned; shrapnel fire is 
notoriously uncertain in its results, but there were about 
twenty dead and wounded picked up in the streets and 
there must have been bodies in the ruins of houses and 

Friday morning the military authorities authorized 
the city officials completely and without reserve to nego- 
tiate to stop the bombardment. General Deguise and his 
staff had gone westward with the army. Antwerp's old 
burgomaster, Jan de Vos, the Spanish Consul, Senator 
Alfred Rykmans, and Deputy Louis Franck presented 
themselves in an automobile before the German outposts. 
They were blindfolded and taken through the lines to 
the town of Contich. Mr. Franck in his tall hat and 
frock coat was spokesman. 

It was a common story in Antwerp afterward that 
the German General, Hans von Beseler, could not be- 
lieve his eyes when the deputation appeared before him, 
for there was not a man in uniform among them ! " I 
will not receive them/' he stormed. " I will not treat 


with civilians. I have conquered one of the great 
fortresses of the world/' he burst out, turning on Mr. 
Franck, " and a civilian comes to render it up ! You 
come to render it up ! a man in a top hat ! " . . . 

But the citizens of Antwerp did not yet know that 
their beautiful city had capitulated. I left Thompson at 
the Consulate and made a rapid inspection of the center 
of town. In the Place Verte four big shells had 
plowed into the earth, and the cathedral of Notre Dame 
had at last been struck. Most of Belgian cathedrals 
are not like Dutch Protestant churches whitewashed 
sepulchres, with barnacles of shops about their bleaching 
hulls, so the destruction in its neighborhood had not 
menaced the cathedral itself. But now in the south 
transept, thirty feet from the ground, yawned a hole 
four feet in diameter. I endeavored to find the cus- 
todian, but they told me that he had fled. Later I found 
a priest and a bystander named Peeters, and together we 
searched for the keys. The priest babbled mournfully to 
me of the sacrilege of the Germans: the mad ruthless- 
ness with which they make war, the brutality with which 
they treat priests and nuns, and their impious vandal- 

At last we were inside. The beautiful old cathedral 
of Notre Dame had stood inviolate and sacred since its 
completion in 1450. It held the carved masterpieces of 
a host of sculptors, and the famous " Descent from the 
Cross " of Rubens, but fortunately all the paintings had 


been removed and hidden away before the bombardment 
began, for there, on the flag-stones, directly in front of 
the high altar, I picked up half a howitzer shell one of 
the latest and most terrible weapons known to men. 
Fragments of the stone of which the cathedral is built 
had been blown one hundred feet away from the spot 
where the shell entered. Five sections of the great 
stained-glass window in the south transept had been shat- 
tered, another had been completely demolished, and an 
altar rail was gouged with shot. " What sacrilege ! 
What scandal ! " the poor priest reiterated in an under- 
tone. Our shoes gritted on bits of priceless stained glass 
as we walked. 

Three shells had struck near the Town Hall and had 
pitted the south side of the building, but the Germans 
had spared the principal architectural treasures of the 
city. The museums were untouched. 

New fires were springing up. New fugitives were 
hurrying past, all going northward. But most of the 
population still in Antwerp waited with the calm of 
despair for the occupation by the Germans. No more 
soldiers were to be seen, the Civic Guards had been dis- 
banded and had disappeared, and a policeman at the 
Town Hall told me the city had surrendered and that the 
Germans were about to enter. 

I walked up toward the avenue des Arts. The streets 
were deserted and the city silent, except for the snap- 
ping of flames in the burning houses. Suddenly I heard 


a new sound low, insistent, measured the sound of 
men marching. I turned a corner and looked. . . . 
There, coming down the avenue in absolute silence, were 
the Germans. 


The troops were advancing cautiously, like men who 
fear a trap. There was no music, there were no flags. 
First came some of the bicycle corps, then masses of 
infantrymen and a few cavalrymen, then came floods of 
soldiers. Column after column they rolled past, all in 
the gray-green service uniform which is the most remark- 
able disguise ever invented by mortal man. Line after 
line they tramped by, anonymous as swarming bees, in- 
distinguishable from the mass at fifty yards, stamping 
the cobble-stones in perfect time, with the remarkable, 
tireless, springy march-step of the German recruit. 
There were sprays of field flowers in some of the guns, 
and sprigs of green in the soldiers' coats. 

The men glanced suspiciously at the shuttered win- 
dows, as if they suspected that snipers lurked behind in 
the darkened rooms. One madman's work just then 
would have precipitated a massacre and the destruction 
of the city. . . . 

Von Hindenburg was still on the offensive in Russia, 
and tremendous battles were in progress in France, yet 
the captors of Antwerp were as fresh as if they had been 
newly mobilized, and they were literally the flower of 


the Kaiser's armies. I did not see a man older than 
twenty-eight, except two officers who flew by in a motor- 

Then came what seemed to be endless trains of artil- 
lery, rumbling along behind the infantry. Field guns 
and Austrian howitzers went past, each drawn by six 
splendid horses, and nervous military automobiles ap- 
peared, skirting the columns. Belgian civilians began to 
come out, their curiosity having got the better of their 
discretion. Several timidly gave directions to members 
of the bicycle corps or officers in automobiles who 
stopped to inquire the way. 

Through the rue des Tanneurs to the Place de Meir 
came another infantry column; but like the first, it en- 
tered in silence, without music and without show of any 

The infantrymen stacked arms in the streets and 
rested. At the end of every alley and side street I could 
see frightened people peering out at their masters. Oc- 
casionally some one hurried furtively along close to the 
buildings. Women wept and wrung their hands. A 
few, perhaps more frightened even than the rest, ap- 
peared in side streets with cups of coffee which they of- 
fered to the Germans. A cafe in the Place de la Com- 
mune opened, and long files of soldiers quietly formed 
and bought beer from the trembling proprietor. 

I walked up to a group of twenty German soldiers rest- 
ing in a little park, and introduced myself. 


" Are you English? " a young lieutenant asked mildly. 
" Oh, no," I said. " I am an American." 
" Ach, so! ... Where are the English?" 
" You must not ask me," I laughed. " Americans are 

Trains of artillery kept pouring in. Down along the 
water front beside the old Spanish Steen, a dozen big 
guns were unlimbered and began shelling the west shore 
of the Scheldt. The pontoon bridge was a hopeless 
wreck, and the Belgians had scuttled all available river 
craft and jammed the machinery of the canal locks, so 
pursuit by the Germans was impossible. They contented 
themselves with shelling the rearguards of the retreating 

army. Boom, boom boom, boom, boom went the 

German guns ; but the weary population of Antwerp was 
past caring. 

And I found myself careless too. Now that the thrill 
of the bombardment had subsided, I felt an apathetic 
calm. The sufferings of Belgium ceased to interest me. 
... I looked up Thompson, and together we walked 
leisurely back to our little house in the rue du Peage as 
if we had left it only for a stroll. On our way we saw 
new ruins caused by the shells, and a number of new con- 
flagrations. We picked up bits of a shell which had 
penetrated one of the round towers of the National Bank 
building, and stared at the holes in the Palais de Justice. 
Little house dogs, deserted by their masters, were scratch- 


ing and whining disconsolately at locked doors, but we 
walked by, indifferent to them. Our house we found still 
intact, although the third and fourth floors where the 
shrapnel shell had struck were little more than kindling. 
The American flag still hung protectingly over the front 

We went inside. A starving cat yowled from the back- 
yard, and we found dry bread and sour milk, and fed 
it. Beside a rosebush in the yard was a sunken spot, 
like a grave. Probably our Belgian hosts had buried 
household treasures there. 

But our curiosity was dead. West of us the Germans 
were pounding away with their field guns. Occasionally 
we heard dull reports which sounded like the Belgian 
forts or the British armored trains replying. It may 
have been the Belgian troops blowing up their forts. At 
intervals came the sharp crackle of infantry firing in 
platoons close at hand. But we did not care. We had 
grown callous and careless from the strain of two days. 


Saturday morning, October tenth, the rest of the Ger- 
man troops about Antwerp poured into the city. They 
entered, like their predecessors, in perfect order and in 
silence. We two lonely Americans stood in the office of 
the deserted American Consulate overlooking the rue 
Leys and watched the line of troops roll by. They, like 
the others, were young and fit. We did not see Land- 


Sturm among them. They passed like an army going 
into action : gun after gun, regiment after regiment, Red 
Cross wagons, commissariat wagons, more guns, more 
regiments, and still more regiments. It seemed to be ar- 
ranged especially for our benefit, and Thompson unlim- 
bered his moving-picture camera and took photographs 
of the entire proceeding. 

Belgian agents de police were still at their posts, re- 
inforced now by German sentries. It was interesting to 
see how quickly the latter assumed the task of cleaning 
up the city. By seven o'clock Saturday morning, squads 
of citizens, men and women, were sweeping the side- 
walks and streets under guard of German soldiers, and 
as I threaded my way slowly along among the soldiers 
massed in the narrow downtown streets, I found them 
passing from hand to hand buckets of water to put out 
the street fires. At the Marche aux CEufs, Belgian fire- 
men were working on the ladders, German soldiers were 
passing buckets below, and in one place the soldiers were 
energetically engaged in working an old-fashioned six- 
man fire pump. 

On the Vieux Marche au Ble, soldiers crowded into a 
little food shop. "Ah, ha," I said to myself; "here's 
where I catch them looting." I wedged myself into the 
shop in the wake of a stocky private. The tiny space 
was jammed with Germans, and the nervous proprietor 
was hacking away with incredible speed and skill at a 
huge cheese. Sausages, cheese, cake chocolate, and bread 


were what the soldiers were buying. The stock went 
like wildfire, but not a soldier left the shop without 
paying for his share. They paid in Belgian money. 
Some of them had to stand about for eight or ten min- 
utes after they had received their purchases before they 
had an opportunity to pay, but they paid. They were 
more like a crowd of picnickers buying out a rural 
grocery than soldiers of a conquering army occupying 
the capital of a kingdom. 

A dozen Bavarians stood in the rue Aqueduc listen- 
ing to the vituperations of an old Flemish woman. She 
was berating them like schoolboys, absolutely fearless, 
but they seemed to be taking it in excellent humor. I 
think they understood about one word in six, for the 
Flemish language is just enough like the German to be 
hopelessly confusing at first. Suddenly one of the sol- 
diers looked up at the cathedral spire, where the Belgian 
flag had hung ever since the tragic day that Germany 
sent her ultimatum to Belgium. There, crawling slowly 
toward the top, was the black-white-and-red flag of the 
invaders. It reached the peak and began to flutter in the 
light breeze. The soldiers yelled delightedly. " We 
must sing ! We must sing ! " shouted some one ; and the 
long compact lines began to chant, Deutschland, Deutsch- 
land iiber dies. 

German marines were hard at work on the wreckage 
of the pontoon bridge when I came out on the water 


front. A line of German cannon stood below the Span- 
ish Steen, and across the Scheldt smoke rose lazily from 
ruins of buildings set on fire by the shells. In the moun- 
tain of debris discarded by Belgian and British in their 
retreat, German soldiers were searching for serviceable 
trophies. I saw a soldier worm out of the pile a brand- 
new fencing mask and foils. He stared at them as if he 
had no idea what they were for ; and indeed they looked 
amusing enough in the heap of uniforms, rifles, bayonets, 
cartridge boxes, cartridge clips, camp knives and forks, 
swords, and scabbards which lay scattered in disorder 
for more than one hundred and fifty feet along the edge 
of the quay. Another German fished out of the mass 
a beautiful Belgian presentation sword. He threw it 
aside in disgust. The searchers were taking only service- 
able things leather straps, holsters, knives, and the 

The old Steen loomed dark above them as they 
searched. The stony eyes of the tenth century seemed 
to look very calmly on this last taking of Antwerp. The 
Steen had seen many conquerors: William the Silent, 
Alva, Farnese, Marlborough, Napoleon, Marshal Gerard 
why worry over one more? ... I walked up the 
steep approach. A solitary Belgian guard stood at the 
portal, his face haggard and his hands twitching. He 
touched his cap to me very gravely. " Yes, monsieur can 
go up ; but it is sad, very sad." " What is sad ? " " Why, 
what the Germans have done." . . . The antique door 


had been hacked through with an ax, the wrought iron 
lock had been broken, and the quaint old halls invaded 
in order that men might tear down the Belgian flag 
which had floated there so many years. All over Ant- 
werp, Belgian, British, and French flags still stood, un- 
touched by the conquerors, but from the cathedral, the 
Town Hall, and the summit of the Steen, Germany's 
black-white-and-red now hung triumphant in the quiet 


I had seen enough. Thompson elected to stay in Ant- 
werp with his beloved cameras, so I set off on foot for 
the Dutch frontier. 

The streets in the northern part of Antwerp were 
deserted, except for a few weeping women and children. 
I saw men lurking in the alleys, but I did not stop to 
talk with them. Twice I saw American flags floating 
over shipping still in the river, but for the most part town 
and river were deserted. 

At the first bridge stood a detail of German soldiers. 
" Is to pass verbotenf " I asked. " No/' they answered, 
and I went on. 

The northern basins were crowded with barges, but 
the locks had been jammed and rendered useless. What 
small boats there were had been stove in, so that they 
could not be used to set troops across the river, but the 
larger shipping was uninjured. Along the wharves were 


piled thousands of tons of coal and grain; probably the 
most valuable booty in Antwerp. But the wharves, like 
the streets, were deserted. 

People still were fleeing from Antwerp. A few bolder 
ones drifted back, evidently reassured since the firing had 
ceased, but most were headed north. Many young men 
went by me on bicycles, pedaling as if for dear life. I 
stopped two of them and asked why they were leaving. 
They told me incoherently that if they stayed in Ant- 
werp they would be sent away by the Germans to fight 
against the Russians. ... An old, old woman in stiffly 
starched peasant cap and black gown, was borne along 
in a wheelbarrow, bumping through the ruts in the nar- 
row road. Her wooden shoes jolted against the barrow 
rim, and her head nodded to right and left as if she were 
a queen acknowledging the greetings of her subjects. 
Her face had lost all human expression. It was like 
lead, or like ashes. . . . 

Suddenly I found myself in the very midst of fortifi- 
cations. They were to right of me, to left of me, and in 
front of me, immense, silent, grassy banks, scarred 
here and there with trenches and embrasures and gray 
concrete gun-bases. My heart flew to my throat, for 
those half -invisible, silent works seemed far more menac- 
ing than any number of visible enemies. The Germans 
might be there, or the Belgians. In any event, I had no 
business spying about the defenses. 


Then, for my need, an old peasant appeared. He 
seemed like a gnome which had popped from the ground, 
for I could have sworn the place was empty a moment 
before. He was dressed in rags, and there was an odd 
stubble of beard about his leathery face, but he looked 
intelligent. He hobbled near and peered up at me in 

" Do you speak French ? " I asked uncertainly. 

" Oh, yes, monsieur." 

" And will you show me the road to Holland ? " 

" Gladly, monsieur." 

The old fellow was a natural philosopher. He would 
have delighted Voltaire or Rousseau. He had thought 
deep thoughts, uncontaminated by the influence of the 
schools, and as we walked he poured out his wisdom in a 
feeble wheezy monologue. 

" The war ? Ah, monsieur, the war, it is a curse. But 
then, much in life is a curse, and we must bear it tran- 
quilly. To live, that is the important thing. Men fight 
each other, cheat each other, steal each other's land, lust 
for one another's wives yes, monsieur, it is true but 
we must live. We must bear all tranquilly. It is war. 
It is life, n'est-ce pas? " 

We walked together for a quarter of an hour through 
the lines of fortresses and saw not a living soul. Those 
great fortifications of Antwerp, the' impregnable ring 
which General Brialmont had drawn about the metropolis 
of Belgium, lay deserted and useless while an old man 


and a boy walked through them and moralized of 


I was alone beside the Scheldt again, sheltered by the 
dykes from hostile eyes, but the impulse to see was ir- 
resistible. I ran to the top of the ridge and looked back. 
There was the dark silhouette of Antwerp, the lace-like 
cathedral spire, the high buildings and factories, and the 
low mass of houses. But up from the pile still rose black 
columns of smoke to trouble the dark day. Antwerp 
still was burning. 

Eastward were the green embankments of the forts, 
westward the broad dark river, and the reedy levels of 
East Flanders. But northward! . . . Suddenly I felt 
as if I had fled from a nightmare, as if nothing in Ant- 
werp had been real, from my arrival and arrest as a spy, 
through the terrible thirty-six hours of the bombardment 
and the coming of the Germans. Before me were long, 
level meadows, cultivated fields, patches of wood, and lit- 
tle winding lanes with avenues of slender trees, alder 
hedges, ditches, and lines of pollard willows. It was a 
landscape to make a painter shout for joy. Hundreds of 
cattle loafed beside the ditches or lazily browsed in the 
grass. Colts and young calves frisked about, utterly in- 
different to war. A flock of small birds flew by me, 
singing. Far away a windmill turned, and thin church 
spires marked quiet villages, sheltered in groves of 
oaks and elms. Here there was no wreck; no devas- 


tation. Here life was real. Antwerp had been a 


But an endless line of unhappy fugitives moved north- 
ward through the quiet lanes. The flight, begun on 
Wednesday, continued unabated on Saturday. Some- 
times the narrow paved roadway was blocked with carts, 
bicycles, and people. High-pooped Flemish farm wagons 
piled with goods, abbreviated prairie schooners, queer 
copies of the Deadwood coach, hand carts, dog carts, 
ox carts anything which ran on wheels or legs made 
part of that tragic procession. 1 

A man hailed me from the door of a roadhouse. I 
shouted back that I could not stop, but he insisted so 
earnestly that I turned and went to him. He was a very 
old man, bent with rheumatism and shrunken like a 
ghost. He stood crazily clutching the jamb of the door 
as he talked. To my amazement, he spoke English in 
a voice that thrilled like a trumpet. He had seen and 
recognized the little American flag in my coat. 

" For God's sake, sir, can't you help us ? " he cried. 
"You're an American, aren't you, sir? Isn't America 

*Yet these fugitives, these " vluchtelingen," as they are called 
in Flemish, were only part of an age-long flight. Flanders means 
" land of the fugitives." A Fleming it used to be pronounced 
"fle-ming" etymologically is a man who has fled from the old 
German forests. 


going to help us? Can't you do something for Belgium? 
Don't you see that something must be done ? Surely your 
country will help us! Oh, this is a black day for Bel- 
gium ! " 

If only I had known how America was to help! If 
only I could have spoken with the tongue of prophecy 
and told him of the work to be done by the Commission 
for Relief in Belgium! But I did not know; I did not 
know, and I could not answer him a word. 

There were three men whom I passed, pushing a hand 
cart. Half a minute afterward there was a shout behind 
me, and I looked about to see one of the three running 
toward me. He held a bottle of light beer in his hand, 
which he insisted that I drink. The cart contained only 
a few household treasures and half a dozen bottles all 
that the man had left in the world but he felt that he 
must share with the stranger. I drank, with tears in my 
eyes, to him and to Belgium. 

In all the little towns along the way, refugees rested 
in utter exhaustion or camped out under frail shelters in 
lanes, dooryards, and streets. I never before realized 
how many old people there are in the world. Half of 
these refugees seemed over sixty years old and practically 
helpless. War kills the old like flies. Life owed them a 
warm chimney corner, a friend or two, a pipe and a bot- 
tle; instead of these, it had hurled them out into the 
center of one of the most terrible cataclysms of history 
and had chased them in panic from their homes and 


native land. What such as these suffered during the 
reign of terror in Antwerp and afterward can never be 
imagined or described. 

Every ditch along the roadside was littered with 
things thrown away by the fleeing soldiers. There was 
no escape over the river for the garrisons of the north- 
ern fortresses, such as Saint Philippe, Oudendyk, and 
Stabroeck, so they had joined the civilian fugitives and 
had cast aside in their flight, uniforms, side-arms, wine 
bottles, and every other sort of military impedimenta. 
Caps and uniforms lay trampled in the mud ; empty bot- 
tles bobbed grotesquely in the canals; the culverts were 
stuffed with refuse; and all the farmers in the neighbor- 
hood were salvaging military supplies. 

Little peasant boys, their trousers rolled high, waded 
thigh-deep in ooze and ditch water, fishing out clips 
of cartridges and arms, and quarreling over their 
finds. . . . 

Late in the afternoon rain came, but the procession did 
not slacken speed. Cyclists went by with heads down 
and pedals spinning. Weary horses and wearier men 
plodded steadily along in the face of the drizzle. Abso- 
lute terror still was upon them. No one thought of stop- 
ping for rest, for the Germans were somewhere behind. 

They were in front of us, too. The rain stopped and 
some of the fugitives seemed to have grown calmer, 
when down the narrow, tree-bordered highway came a 


huge military automobile. Half a mile ahead I saw peo- 
ple run out of the road, jump the ditches, flatten them- 
selves against the hedges, and clamber over gates into 
the turnip fields. An old man tumbled into a ditch and 
lay motionless, half immersed in muddy water. Panic 
was on again. 

The car came thundering along, a great white flag 
flapping from its wind-shield, and when it got nearer I 
saw that two German officers and a civilian sat in the 
tonneau. The civilian was one of the Belgian notables 
told off to surrender the forts to the Germans, and the 
car had just come from Fort Stabroeck. The eyes of 
all in the automobile were fixed on the straight road 
ahead. I do not think they noticed the panic their pass- 
ing caused. They flew by without giving us a glance, 
speeding back toward Antwerp. 


Hours passed. Austruweel, Wilmarsdonck, Oorderen, 
Beerendrecht, and Sandvliet lay behind us. The frontier 
could not be far away. 

In the road ahead some one raised a happy shout, and 
the long line of men and carts surged forward more 
hopefully. Half a mile away appeared soldiers and a 
number of wagons lying at the side of the road. As we 
got nearer, I saw a little wooden sentry-box beneath the 
avenue of trees ; still nearer, and a flag not Belgian, not 
German, but the red-white-and-blue of Holland the 


colors so comfortably like our own. This was the arbi- 
trary, intangible line where war stopped and peace be- 
gan. A few steps more and we were standing in the 
midst of a group of friendly Dutch soldiers, all wearing 
in their caps the pompon of the neutral House of Orange. 

Most of the fugitives crossed the line and plodded on 
mechanically as if they were blind and dumb. Some 
sank exhausted to the ground and lay with faces buried 
in the grass. A few prayed. Scarcely any smiled. 
Panic still was upon them, panic which they would feel 
for days, and dream of for years. It was the kind of 
elemental terror which falls on a people once in centuries. 

Piles of muskets lay in the grass, where the fugitive 
soldiers had been disarmed as they crossed the border. 
The Belgians from the northern forts had come bringing 
arms, ammunition wagons, automobiles, and even field 
artillery and regimental flags, and fast as they had come, 
the Dutch had disarmed them and led them away to be 
interned until the end of the war. 

Hundreds of soldiers had entered Holland by this 
road. While I watched, two more, both infantrymen, 
came in from the south. They were in uniform, torn 
and battle-soiled, but they had already thrown away 
their rifles, and they passed the frontier with eyes glazed 
and mouths agape. A sentry led them to the side of the 
road and left them there to rest. An hour afterwards 
they came marching up the highway under guard of four 


One of them asked to speak with me, and the guards 
willingly acquiesced. 

"We are prisoners, monsieur, until the end of the 
war," the Belgian explained. " Do you think our fami- 
lies should go to London and wait for us there ? " 

"Are your families here?" I asked in astonishment. 

" Oh, yes, monsieur." 

" You brought them with you ? " 

" Oh, yes, monsieur. There is my wife : there is my 
child." He pointed to a grief-stricken little woman, sit- 
ting motionless on the ground; a three-year-old boy 
sprawling beside her. " I could not leave them to the 
Germans," the man continued. " My comrade and I 
went back to our homes and brought our families away 
with us. Now we must go to the military prison camp 
and leave them. Will England care for them if they go 
to London ? " 

Would England care? England must care! "Oh, 
yes, indeed, England will care for them," I promised 
with my whole heart and soul. " Have no fear. Rest 
tranquil. England will care for them. And when the 
war is over, perhaps you and they will come to my coun- 
try to America." 

" To America ! " His face brightened wonderfully. 
" Monsieur is American ? 'Au revoir, then ; au revoir. I 
will come to America. Some day I too shall be an 
American, perhaps. Au revoir, mon compatriote."' 

And he and his comrade marched off with their Dutch 


guards, leaving the grief -stricken little wife and the 
three-year-old boy sitting motionless in the grass beside 
the road. 

A few hundred yards away was a small railroad sta- 
tion where I found two or three hundred Belgians 
crushed into a tiny train waiting to start for Bergen op 
Zoom. Most of them had sat in the train since ten 
o'clock in the morning. Few had eaten any food. There 
were many children among them, all strangely quiet, like 
little frightened animals, while their elders whispered 
breathless stories of the horrors in Antwerp. 

" Oh, monsieur ! " A fat housewife, wedged into the 
narrow space between a seat and the car wall, was telling 
the story. " Oh, monsieur ! It was terrific the sound 
of them the bombshells. They screeched and yowled 
and spat, like cats that fight themselves. Terrible! I 
ran! Oh, how fast I ran! I am breathless with think- 
ing of it. Oh, those bombshells ! Oh, holy Mary ! " 

An old man took up the narrative. " Yes, and in les 
Jardins Botaniques such sadness! There the keeper of 
the menagerie shot down all the wild beasts all the ani- 
mals of the jungle for fear they would escape and bite 
the poor people in the streets. Oh, it was sad, so sad! 
When the bombshells began to fall on the Jardins, the 
keeper took up his gun. One by one he shot them 
boom! boom! the big lions, and the wolves, and the 
foxes, and the panther, and the spotted leopard they 


died, screaming horribly. Then the keeper came last to 
the cage of the brown bear. You remember the brown 
bear in the menagerie, madame? he was so kind, so 
gentle. A child could pet him. And he had been taught 
to hold up his paws together, as the priest does in the 
cathedral of a Sunday, praying. 

" When the keeper came with the loaded gun, this 
bear put up his paws, so, praying him not to shoot. And 
the keeper burst out with a great cry, and went up near 
to the bear, and embraced him lovingly through the bars 
of the cage. And then he took up the gun and boom! 
boom! he shot him." 

"Oh, but it is sad!" 

" Yes, and so sad is the howling of the poor forsaken 
dogs all the night long in Antwerp; thousands of dogs 
abandoned by their masters and left to starve. I cannot 
sleep for thinking of them, locked in the empty houses, 
scratching and sniffing at all the doors, and all the time 
howling with fear and the hunger. Ugh ! it is horrible, 
horrible, messieurs. The poor animals! How they suf- 
fer ! How they suffer ! " 

" But the atrocities of these Germans ! In war they 
become cannibals. I have an uncle who is of the mili- 
tary, and he found on the battlefields after Malines " 

The raconteur spun a yarn as old and as vile as war 
itself; a tale that was typical of thousands which have 
been accepted as Gospel truth since this war began. 

It nettled me, and I interrupted him in the most dra- 


matic moment of the story. :< You must not tell such 
tales," I said severely. " They will keep Belgians from 
going back, and you must go back to save yojur country." 
The man shrugged his shoulders significantly. " Ah, 
monsieur, you do not know. If we go back, as you ad- 
vise, we shall have to come away again tomorrow. The 
French are going to capture Antwerp. Already their 
army is only a few kilometers away. Perhaps they too 
will shell the city. We do not want to go back to be 
shelled a second time." 

" Yes, messieurs, that is true," a third said. " Besides, 
there are the Russians. Already they are near Berlin, 
and they will come down through Germany to help us. 
The Russians are a mighty people. Maybe they will 
come soon. We will not go back until they come." . . . 

I held my peace. Cows were coming in from the fields 
about the station, ready to be milked. For the time be- 
ing they seemed more interesting, more intelligent than 
the sad-eyed men and women in the train. They were 
calm and even-tempered and self-respecting beasts. 
They read no newspapers, paid no taxes, went to no 
churches, and waged no wars. They ate grass and gave 
milk. That was life. 

We milked them almost into the mouths of the little 
Belgians in the train, for as fast as the tepid milk 
squirted into the tin pails we bought it and carried it to 
the youngsters. But it was painful to see the children 
drink. They sucked at the foaming liquid without a 


trace of eagerness or enjoyment. They seemed to have 
grown centuries old and indifferent to everything about 


Shortly before nightfall we pulled out for Bergen op 
Zoom. That hour's ride is unforgettable. Fugitives of 
days before were crowded along the roads and out into 
the fields like grasshoppers. There was not a foot of 
space along the highway left vacant by their vehicles. 
One after another, as far as the eye could see in either 
direction, carts crawled along through the dusk. High 
Flemish wains rode like ships above a tossing sea of hu- 
man heads; ponderous, underslung farm wagons came 
by, hauled by stout Percheron horses; there were milk 
carts pulled by dogs ; delivery wagons, out-of-date family 
coaches, American carriages, hay wagons, victorias, 
omnibuses, and ox-carts, all trundling along in that slug- 
gish stream. Thousands were their own carryalls and 
beasts of burden; they pushed baby carriages or wheel- 
barrows, piled high with goods; they carried awkward 
bundles on their backs, pedlar fashion; they bore bas- 
kets on their arms, or little parcels done up in towels 
slung from their elbows. And there were hundreds plod- 
ding along the road who carried nothing at all ; who had 
come away from their homes leaving absolutely every- 
thing behind. 

Cattle and even flocks of sheep marched with the hu- 


man herd. Once I saw a little goat run out of the 
throng, bleating piteously. Cats and birds in cages rode 
high upon the wagons, and scores of tired dogs padded 
along behind their tired masters. 

As night grew darker, fires popped up under the alder 
hedges. Camps were pitched, pallets of straw spread, 
and people cooked their suppers over hot coals. Some 
improvised rough lodgings for the night under their 
wagons on the bare ground, or in the open fields under 
the stars. Every farmyard was an oasis of rest and re- 
freshment, where food was to be had for the asking un- 
til the supply was exhausted. 

Of course there was not nearly enough food for all 
who asked. Most of that sad army went dinnerless and 
supperless, and most of it still marched. Its own inertia, 
not its will, seemed to carry it on, and a strange sound 
came from it as it moved a continuous droning, a low 
murmur, like heavy breathing, which filled all the night 
air. That sound seemed to come from the earth and the 
sky and the trees and the grass, as well as from the 
marching men. It was a sound more terrible than hu- 
man wailing. It was as if all nature mourned, and as 
if this vast movement through the night were the funeral 
procession of a nation. . . . 

The little Dutch villages along the way blazed with 
lights to welcome the wanderers. Every house was full. 
People gladly slept on doorsteps and pavements to give 


up their beds to the Belgians. Every drop of milk and 
every ounce of bread was at their command. Schools 
were turned into emergency hospitals and churches into 
lodging houses for them. Factories became refugee 
camps, and in every imaginable way the Dutch tried to 
cope with the awful situation which the war had thrust 
on their neighbors. 

The Belgians contributed a remarkable invention to all 
that the Dutch were doing. This was a refugee directory. 
I first saw it at Woensdrecht, and afterwards in half a 
dozen villages in southern Holland. Conspicuous house 
walls or fences in every one of these villages were 
chalked over with the names and addresses of Belgians 
stopping there. The directories were scrawled up along 
the principal streets, and there were hundreds of names 
in each list. 

The Myer Family 

Dordrechtstraat 12 
Marcelline Smit 

Roosenstraat 50 
Julie le Maitre 

Waterstraat 17, City 

so the notices read. 

But there were scores and hundreds of families whom 
no directory could help that night; families whose 
fathers, or mothers, or children, or grandchildren had be- 
come separated from the others in the mad panic of 
flight and had not yet been found. Some of them would 


never be found. The newspapers of Holland were to be 
filled for weeks with advertisements for the lost. On 
that tragic night, every town in southern Holland had 
its quota of lost children, and every town had its Bel- 
gian Rachels, weeping, and not to be comforted. 

Bergen op Zoom, a quaint ugly Dutch town on the 
main line of railway from Flushing to Rotterdam, roared 
like a metropolis that night. It was jammed with refu- 
gees. They lay about in the streets, on the doorsteps 
and sidewalks. One could not walk without stepping on 
them. Every house and church and school was at their 
disposal, but still there were thousands too many. They 
were bedded down on the bare boards in church pews, 
and on the polished floors of the best parlors in town. 
They slept in and under carts standing in the streets. 
Women in the pangs of childbirth were placed on cots 
improvised of school benches and mattresses, and the 
sick and infirm were made as comfortable as possible on 
loose straw piled in sheds and barns. 

Bakeries were commandeered to supply free bread to 
all who asked. The milk supply was taken up for the 
exclusive use of the children. Groceries were gutted. 
All blankets, bandages, old clothes, and household medi- 
cines had already been solicited by the Red Cross for the 
needy by the time we got there. Carriages and wagons 
were all in the service; men, women, and even children 
were at work, and Bergen op Zoom on the night of 


October tenth, 1914, reached the heights of unselfishness. 
But so did all Holland. From the northern tip of 
Friesland and Gelderland to southwest Zeeland, there was 
not a Dutch community which lacked its share of fugi- 
tives. The Government appropriated large sums for the 
relief of the refugees on the day the flight began. 
It now ran free trains into all sections of the country, 
thus distributing the burden as equably as possible. The 
spirit of the Dutch was splendid. They laid aside in a 
moment the animosities of years: all the sordid in- 
heritance of hatreds and distrust which makes up half 
the national feeling of the European nations. They for- 
got the Revolution of 1830, which resulted in a final 
separation of the Belgian Provinces from those we call 
Holland. They forgot that it is a Dutchman's patriotic 
duty to dislike his Belgian neighbor. And it is to their 
eternal honor and glory that they opened their country, 
already suffering terribly from the effects of the war 
among their neighbors, without question and without 
hope of reward, to the disinherited hordes that over- 
whelmed them. 

Free trains were running east and west from Bergen 
op Zoom. While we waited on the crowded station plat- 
form, three trains were dispatched for Flushing : one for 
refugees, two for captive Belgian soldiers. Men, 
women, children, and luggage, we blocked the platforms, 
shivering and half famished, from seven o'clock until 


long after ten. A tiny Belgian baby slept in my arms. 
I had taken it from its exhausted mother, and she had 
not even turned her eyes to see what had happened to 
her baby, or why. Another child slept leaning against 
my knees. The older people stood numb and dumb. We 
watched human beings ride away like tired cattle, and 
when they had gone, others dully took their places. The 
fugitives to the last man seemed utterly exhausted. 

Late at night the station gates swung open once again, 
and there appeared the head of a long procession of cap- 
tive Belgian soldiers. Some were in civilian clothes and 
carried awkward bundles on their backs, like many of 
the other fugitives; some were bareheaded and coatless, 
shivering in the cold October night air; a few still bore 
their army blankets in great white sausage rolls across 
their shoulders and under their arms; two or three had 
brown loaves of bread in their hands, and bottles, which 
the Dutch had given them, in their pockets ; but most of 
them had nothing at all except the uniforms on their 
backs. There were at least two thousand of them. 

They slouched in carelessly, without order or direc- 
tion, between two files of Dutch guards. Going to prison 
until the end of the war was not a pleasant prospect, 
even if it is called " internment." But when the 
refugees on the platform caught sight of the head of 
that procession and realized that these were the men of 
King Albert's army, they sent up a cheer which thrilled 
those tired soldiers like a bugle-call. It was marvelous 


to hear such a cheer in the midst of so much suffering. 
The long, irregular lines stiffened and became soldierly 
once more; the men's eyes flashed as they returned the 
shouts with a will ; and when two long trains came in to 
take them away to military prison, the Belgian soldiers 
went into the cars still cheering and singing. 


It was almost midnight when I climbed painfully into 
the Rotterdam Express at Bergen op Zoom. Every 
nerve ached and trembled. My arms hung paralyzed at 
my sides ; my thin clothing crackled with cold ; I had no 
coat. But nothing seemed to matter, for life and death 
were like old friends and pain was like a brother; all 
problems seemed simple, and all emotions clean. 

I stumbled into the first open compartment of the 
first-class carriage, fumbling at my belt of gold-pieces to 
make sure they were safe. There was an empty seat, 
and I dropped into it, hardly noticing my only neighbor 
a dark-eyed lady of about thirty-five, sitting directly 
across from me. 

I leaned my cheek against the cold window-glass and 
stared out into the night, "seeing things." It was a 
mental trick I had learned when tired to visualize 
rapidly whole trains of pictures, so that they fly by in 
the darkness as against a screen. 

The crisp voice of the lady in the seat opposite inter- 
rupted my picture making. Her eyes studied me with 


the confident look of the born aristocrat who knows and 
feels instinctively the privileges of birth. It was not 
strange that she was traveling alone. In wartime every- 
thing is possible. Boats from Folkestone to Flushing 
went at all hours, for German submarines were active; 
and on this night of nights, all trains were hopelessly off 
schedule. Our train, the boat-train, would probably 
reach Rotterdam after two o'clock in the morning. 

" You are English? " she asked. 

" No, I am an American. But all my ancestors were 
from the British Isles." 

" I should have thought you English." Her eyes 
examined me carefully: tousled hair, soft collar, and 
coatless shoulders. 

" You compliment me," I said, " since you see me 
half -dressed and half -frozen. But you are English." 

" By birth, yes. By marriage I am Dutch. My hus- 
band is head of a department of government in the 
Hague." She spoke a name well-known in Holland. " I 
have been two months in England visiting, and am just 
returning. . . . Tell me," she exclaimed, without alter- 
ing the well-bred modulation of her voice, "have you 
seen any of those vile Huns?" 

" I have just come from Antwerp." 

" So I thought. I should like to burn the whole Ger- 
man nation, as one's gardener burns the worms in an 
apple-tree ! Did you see any atrocities ? " 

" No." 


She appeared to be disappointed. " My family is well- 
known in England," she said. " I have friends army 
officers high in the service, you know. They have told 
me unspeakable things. In an English hospital I saw 
two little Belgian children with their hands cut off at the 
wrists " 

" Don't ! " I interrupted. 

" You don't want to hear about them? " she asked in 
evident annoyance. 

" Forgive me," I begged. " I've just come from the 
midst of the war. My nerves are a bit on edge. I've 
seen so much today." 

" Then you have seen things," she said positively. 
" Now I want to hear about them. Tell me exactly what 
you have seen ! " 

" Shall I tell you how the Germans came into Ant- 

" Please do. Did they commit any atrocities? " 

" No," I said. " They came in very quietly. I went 
up to the first officer I saw and began to talk with him. 
Do you know the first thing he asked me? It was the 
same thing you asked. ' Are you English ? ' And he 
didn't seem to care one way or the other. He asked me 
politely, just as you would ask." 

" But didn't the Germans shoot any citizens? " 

" No," I said. 

She stared at me with sudden dislike and suspicion. 
"Are you pro-German?" she demanded. 


" Not in the least/' I returned. " I am heart and soul 
pro-Belgian, and I want the Allies to win the war." 

She seemed doubtful. Her dark eyes bored into me, 
as if to lay bare the falsehoods hiding behind my tired 
face. "Didn't the Belgians do anything?" 

"What do you mean?" 

" Did they let those murderers come into Antwerp 
without fighting to the last man ? " 

" Oh, they fought, and the English fought, too, splen- 
didly," I went on. " But when the bombardment had 
lasted thirty-six hours, and the army had gone away, 
there wasn't anything more to do." 

" I should have shot at the Germans from the win- 
dows! Why, officers I know tell me they have found 
women's bodies ravished after they were dead, and there 
was a girl eighteen years old in one of the London hos- 
pitals whose breasts had been hacked off." 

" Please don't ! " I implored her. 

"Why?" she asked angrily. "People should know 
these things ! " 

" You don't understand ; you can't understand. I 
have just seen some of the saddest and most terrible 
things in the world: the sight of a whole nation in a 
panic, running away from its country. I've seen thou- 
sands of old people, and children, and even little babies. 
I've seen people of every sort : peasants, aristocrats, and 
merchants. I've talked with them, walked with them, 
ridden with them, and stood with them in the cold; and 


yet I've hardly heard those poor people say one hateful 
word. During all this terrible week they've been as sim- 
ple as little children just wanting to live, and eat, and 
sleep, and be in company with other people. They've 
almost forgotten how to hate." 

Her fine eyes narrowed. " Don't say that. It's hor- 
rible even to think it. Forget to hate the Huns? noth- 
ing in the world could persuade me to do that! Oh, I 
hope and pray every night for the time when our sol- 
diers are in Germany and can pay them tit for tat ! " 

I must have winced. 

" The trouble with you is, you have been too close to 
it. You are abnormal just now," she concluded. 

She did not speak again until we were rolling into the 
station at Rotterdam at half -past two in the morning. 
I got her luggage out of the racks, and piloted her 
safely to a taxi-cab. 

" Good-by," she said, giving me her cool finger tips. 
" I'm glad me met, although you've disappointed me. 
Give me your address. On Monday I am going to send 
you newspapers telling of the atrocities." * 

*A discussion of Belgian atrocities has no place in this book. 
The foregoing chapter records a mood; not a judicial decision. 
But for those who desire trustworthy evidence by an American 
eye-witness, I suggest Arthur Gleason's Young Hilda at the Wars 
and Golden Lads, published by the Century Company, New York, 
1915 and 1916. 



Ten days later I was speeding from Rotterdam to the 
Belgian border with a yachtful of victuals and clothing 
for the vluchtelingen. One of the secretaries of the In- 
ternational Court of Arbitration, Dr. M. P. Rooseboom, 
a nervous, slender, active gentlemen, quick in his sym- 
pathies, and in appearance the antithesis of the stolid 
stage Dutchman, had solicited food and clothing for the 
refugees as soon as they came into Holland, and bor- 
rowed from one of his friends a fine steam yacht to take 
the supplies to the towns along the frontier where they 
were most needed. I went as his guest. 

All available space on the yacht was piled with bags 
of rice, beans, coffee, tubs of lard and butter, cheeses big 
as cartwheels, packages of underclothing for women and 
children, and more than eight hundred loaves of bread. 

Dr. Rooseboom had been in Liege while the battle still 
was on. He and several other Red Cross volunteers 
from Holland were working their way up the Meuse, 
shells flying, bridges being blown up, the shriek and 
thunder of bombardment deafening them. 

Suddenly, he said, they noticed beside the river a 
slender steel camp table, its legs half buried in mire, 
three or four wine bottles on it, and an immense map 
spread across its top, over which hung a general, 
propped by his elbows, studying the chart oblivious to 
the din. His chair and four or five other chairs stand- 


ing in the mud were of priceless mahogany and had been 
taken from a nearby chateau. 

Dr. Rooseboom was introduced to the general. He 
was von Emmich, commander of the Tenth Army 
Corps, the captor of Liege. " Ah," said he, " I know 
you. You are the son of General Rooseboom, whom I 
met at the Prussian manoeuvers in 1897." 

When Dr. Rooseboom told his father of the en- 
counter, the latter looked grave. " I remember it well," 
he said. " The Germans charged in close formation. 
' You will sacrifice thousands upon thousands needlessly 
if you drive your men like that/ I said to a group 
of German officers who, like myself, were watching the 
manoeuvers. One of them, a young colonel, replied, 
' Don't trouble yourself about that. We have them 
to lose ! ' It was von Emmich." . . . 

Barges, loaded with refugees, lay moored on the broad 
rivers and in the canals. It was wash-day, and their red, 
blue, white, and gray flannels flapped from lines hung 
across the decks like jaunty flags in the keen wind. 

At nightfall we reached Hansweert and dined in a 
small hotel crammed with Belgian refugees and Dutch 
soldiers. Rain beat the roof in a deluge. Clouds of 
tobacco smoke and the steam of wet clothes drying be- 
fore a small stove smothered us, and everybody talked 
of Antwerp. 

After dinner, a Belgian in a great fur coat began the 


story of a German defeat at Ostend : the Germans were 
in full flight, King Albert personally was in command 
of the Allies, and he had just issued a proclamation from 
Ostend forbidding his people returning to Belgium until 
the war was over! 

" But the Germans occupied Ostend four days ago," 
Dr. Rooseboom volunteered, " and the King of Belgium 
is in France." 

The Belgian turned on him furiously. " Nay ! Nay ! 
That is not so," he thundered. 

" Here is the Nieuwe Rotter damsche Courant telling 
about it." 

The Belgian swept the newspaper aside. " It is not 


" No matter. But where is this proclamation? " The 
commander-in-chief of our little relief expedition ad- 
dressed himself to the roomful. 

No one answered. 

" Isn't it a shame," he said to me in English. " Louis 
Franck of Antwerp is in Holland appealing to the 
refugees to return to Belgium. The King and the Gov- 
ernment at Havre have told them to go back. But if 
they spread stories like this, they'll never go home, and 
they must go, for Belgium's sake as well as for Hol- 
land's." He turned again to the fur-coated Belgian. 
" Look here, mynheer," he began, " can you tell me 
where " 

His adversary turned the tables very neatly. " These 


Dutchmen are paid by the Germans to tell us tales," he 
whispered loudly to the man at the next table. . . . 

Next morning we were in Ter Neuzen, a beautiful 
medley of one-story houses, steep red-tiled roofs, small 
mullioned windows, tiny chimneys, claret-red brick walls, 
and narrow alleys. Refugees were not allowed to stay 
long in Ter Neuzen, because it is a fortified place, and 
the Dutch feared that German spies might come with 
the vluchtelingen. But the fugitives were allowed to rest 
there and even to spend the night. The bare little barn 
of a Protestant church had been crowded with them, and 
pious ladies of the town had given up their neatly em- 
broidered church cushions so the refugees might sleep 
comfortably in the pews. 

The church vestibule was piled with these cushions, 
soiled and much dilapidated after a week under the heads 
and heels of refugees. The municipal authorities had 
just condemned them to be burned. An apple-cheeked 
old vrouw was fishing gingerly about in the pile. 

" Ja" she explained. " I gave them my cushion, the 
poor Belgians, but it was a very nice cushion, all em- 
broidered, and now I want it back again." 

We left her still searching. . . . 

In the warm sanctuary of the Roman Catholic chapel, 
a score of Belgian women and children were at prayer. 
Incense from the early mass still clung about the pretty 
little church, and yet it seemed all full of sighs and tears. 


Two small girls, with eyes red from weeping, stood 
apart, their lips trembling as they sent up their childish 
petitions. I was told that they had lost both father and 
mother in the mad flight from Antwerp. 

In Sas van Ghent on the Belgian frontier, we found 
five thousand refugees still quartered on the town. 
More than two thousand were in ships along the canals, 
most of them able to pay for their support. There were 
six hundred paupers. For a week the town authorities 
had been passing fugitives along to the less crowded 
ports farther north at a rate of several thousands a 

But the poor who remained were fortunate. Sas van 
Ghent lies cheek by jowl with the beautiful Belgian town 
of Zelzaete, where King Albert and Queen Elizabeth 
spent two nights in their flight to Ostend and the Yser, 
and it possesses a huge phosphate factory, owned by Bel- 
gian capitalists, and idle since the beginning of the war. 
The Dutch turned all the newcomers into the vast fac- 
tory. They filled store-rooms and offices with straw, col- 
lected all the blankets in town, set doctors promptly to 
work, and had the situation well in hand from the 

In the heart of the works was an immense building, 
large as a circus, where the Belgians camped by thou- 
sands. High overhead was a wilderness of tracks and 
steel supports and traveling cranes, but the dirt floor was 


clear of obstruction, and people slept, cooked, washed, 
and ate on the bare ground. After a day or two, a 
genius got to work, begged lumber from the authorities, 
and set about building himself a house of uncut boards 
and straw. Forty or fifty others followed his example, 
and the results were excellent. The dwellings, no larger 
than pig-stys, were exactly the sort of houses our an- 
cestors were building three thousand years ago, and 
formed as quaint a village as the famous Swiss lake- 
houses. They gave a delightful sense of privacy and 
ownership. Blankets or old coats hung over the open- 
ing which served as door and window, and straw stuck 
through the chinks between the boards as it does through 
the ribs of a scarecrow. Little wooden shoes stood be- 
side the huts, for there were plenty of children among 
the refugees. Once I saw a real French bisque doll ly- 
ing in a cradle whittled from a piece of board. One of 
the more aristocratic huts had a little board fence about 
it, to keep the baby from running away, and the mother 
was industriously scrubbing at a pile of clothes in a pail, 
and hanging them on the fence to dry. 

There came a clop clip of little wooden shoes across 
the hard dirt floor, and a five-year-old vluchtelingetje 
(little refugee girl) darted by us. She was playing hide- 
and-seek with another youngster, dodging awkwardly 
about among the little human stys. It must have been 
a great adventure for children to camp out with so 
many playmates in such strange surroundings, to eat 


strange food, to play strange games, and at night to hear 
bloodcurdling tales of what the Germans do to little 
children ! 

The phosphate factory was paradise compared with 
camps in some other towns along the Belgian-Dutch 


In Hulst, which we next visited, the coming of the 
Belgians had been tragic. A small town in the neighbor- 
hood was looted by the frantic fugitives before Dutch 
troops could arrive and restore order. Hulst itself for 
two nights and days was like chaos. Men, women, chil- 
dren, vehicles, and a small army of Belgian soldiers over- 
whelmed the town. 

By far the greater portion of the troops got safely to 
the Yser. Eye-witnesses have told me how they came 
along the dykes, tired, dirty, discouraged, but how they 
turned at a word of command and went back into battle, 
singing. It will never be forgotten how the doughty 
Belgians held their share of the line in the November bat- 
tles. The fact that the army retired in safety from Ant- 
werp is counted a Belgian success, in this war of mobile 
armies and not of fixed fortresses. Stories were current 
of General von Beseler's chagrin at this. There were 
even legends of his suicide in Ghent. But in August, 
1915, he reappeared again in military annals as con- 
queror of the Russian fortress of Brest-Litovsk, for 


which he received the blue ribbon of the Prussian order 
" pour le Merited 

The British lost at Antwerp three hundred of their 
eight thousand men. The Belgian losses have never been 
reported. But in addition to the killed, wounded, and 
missing, twenty-one thousand two hundred and fifty Bel- 
gian soldiers and one thousand five hundred and sixty 
British soldiers and marines fled to Holland with the 
civil population, and were interned. At Hulst, auto- 
mobiles full of high officers of the Belgian army arrived 
ahead of their troops. Then came the men, the under- 
sized, swarthy, discouraged-looking soldiers whom I had 
seen marching across the pontoon bridge at Antwerp, 
completely demoralized now and flying for their lives. 
Their retreat had been cut off southwest of Saint 

A day and a night they came straggling into Holland. 
There were wounded in that rout men with their heads 
awkwardly bandaged up, or their arms in slings made of 
the sleeves of their shirts. Many limped. Some were 
bareheaded. Some had thrown away their overcoats, so 
they could run the faster, and the fronts of their uni- 
forms were soaked with perspiration. Dismounted cav- 
alrymen, their blood-red trousers flapping as they walked, 
came with the blue uniformed infantrymen. Many of 
the uniforms were torn and soiled: the whole back of 
one overcoat had been cut away by a shell. A color 
sergeant marched in, still clinging to a dirty, drooping 


battle-flag. Field artillery and ammunition wagons were 
part of that strange procession, the drivers humped list- 
lessly above their horses, and the lines dragging. Com- 
missariat wagons, hospital afnbulances, Red Cross auto- 
mobiles, and omnibuses came over into Holland with 
the army. And perhaps most pathetic of all, a bedrag- 
gled regimental band marched in, half the men still car- 
rying their cornets and drums and horns a hideous 
travesty of the pomp and circumstance of war. 

Thousands brought their rifles, but most were un- 
armed. In Hulst I saw a pile of Belgian guns sixty feet 
long and six feet high, corded up like firewood, and a 
heap of cartridges, at least twenty bushels of them, ly- 
ing under a rough tarpaulin on the ground. In addition 
to these spoils, there was a small hill of bayonets, car- 
tridge belts, side-arms, revolver holsters, camp kits, sap- 
pers' axes, and shovels, piled helter-skelter in the market- 

An immense tent was erected in the square before the 
Town Hall, and civilian refugees were camped on straw 
under its thin shelter, in a hideous, beast-like common- 
wealth. The Gothic cathedral in the center of the town, 
centuries old and marvelously beautiful, became a camp 
for soldiers waiting to be interned. The town schools 
were emergency hospitals. There were thirty-seven pre- 
mature births in one of these. School benches with a mat- 
tress over them served as maternity cots. Every rag of 
cloth and every drop of medicine suddenly became price*- 


less. The sick lay on pallets spread flat on the floor in 
the schoolrooms, and Sisters of Charity kept the place 
as neat as the neatest metropolitan hospital. 

The bread supply had been exhausted days before we 
came. Most of the fugitives lived on boiled beans, 
cooked in ten great cauldrons in an open courtyard. 
There were crowds of Belgians jammed about the en- 
closure, waiting to be allowed their turn inside, and they 
were ravenous as beasts. No dishes or spoons were to 
be had. Men, women, and little children brought empty 
tins, bowls, or fragments of old crockery to hold their 
share of the precious food, and they ate from little 
wooden shovels which they had whittled out for them- 
selves. No one knew how many vluchtelingen were in 
Hulst, but on the day before, in a nearby village of 
one thousand inhabitants, there had been twenty-three 
thousand Belgians. 

It had poured rain all day. I stepped out of the in- 
cessant floods into the shelter of the tent on the market- 
place, and stumbled over a baby carriage. I looked fur- 
ther into the stuffy, malodorous dusk of the tent. There 
was another baby carriage, and another, and another. 
. . . Some proud poet should write the Ode to the Baby 
Carriage! that democratic chariot of the children of 
men. It had been everywhere in the tragic procession 
from Antwerp. It had trundled over roads, it had rid- 
den high on carts, it had traveled strapped to the handle- 


bars of bicycles, and always it had held the most precious 
possessions of its owners. Sometimes these possessions 
were family pictures, or silver, or fine linen ; but usually, 
more precious than all these, it held the Belgian babies. 
Reverently I bare my head to the Baby Carriage: it is 
the vehicle of civilization. 


Human beings in agony are prone to curse Fate and 
to blame even friends for their pain. The tear-worn 
faces of the refugees masked bitter fancies. They told 
many tales of treachery in connection with Antwerp. 

And it is hardly to be wondered at. Fast as the Ger- 
mans advanced through Belgium, a part of the popula- 
tion retreated before them. These migrations flowed in 
great waves. There was a general exodus from Brussels 
before the German troops occupied it on August twenti- 
eth: the rich going to England, the poor to Antwerp, 
or over the border into Holland. And as the tides of 
battle ebbed and flowed through the country between 
Malines and Ghent, the peasant population joined the 
urban fugitives, most of them crowding into Antwerp. 
They felt absolutely safe in the circle of the famous Ant- 
werp forts. Had not military experts declared the 
fortifications impregnable? Then, in less than a week, 
three of the outer forts fell, and the Germans were ham- 
mering at the gates. 

Stories of collusion between Belgian officers and the 


Germans found many believers. Accounts of reinforced 
concrete gun-bases found under tennis courts in Malines, 
Duffel, and Contich, were common. When I visited Dr. 
Henry van Dyke, American Minister in the Hague, his 
first question bore on these stories of treachery. " There 
are many rumors here in connection with the fall of 
Antwerp," he explained. " They seem to have some 
foundation. There undoubtedly were Germans in the 
Belgian army." 

Many Belgians blamed Churchill's ill-fated expedition 
to Antwerp, declaring that the city could have been saved 
a useless bombardment and its inhabitants spared the hor- 
rors of flight, if the British had not interfered. They 
had forgotten the devotion of their King and Queen; 
they had forgotten the self-sacrificing patriotism of the 
Common Council of Antwerp which unanimously voted 
on October fourth that it was " the unchangeable wish 
of the population to see pursued to the very end the de- 
fense of the fortress of Antwerp, without any other 
thought than that of the national defense, and without 
any regard to the dangers run by persons or private 

A slant-eyed Belgian girl, with wet hair, and a big 
shawl drooping about her narrow shoulders, sat in the 
malodorous tent on the market-place in Hulst, telling a 
story to a group of refugees. Outside, the rain fell 
steadily. It sluiced and spotched and oozed from the 


atmosphere, as if the air were a cold, wet sponge. It 
crawled down necks and up trouser-legs. It sopped 
cheeks and beaded eyebrows. It snuggled into the roots 
of the hair, and churned up mud that clung like cottage- 

The vluchtelingen were huddled together in the dismal 
shelter of the tent. A couple of lanterns gave all the 
light there was, except the glow of a pipe. An old Bel- 
gian sat smoking, in spite of the regulations imposed by 
the Dutch, and underfoot was enough loose straw to fire 
a city. 

The girl allowed me to join the group, and retold the 
story for my benefit. 

" It is a story of King Albert, m'sieu," she said, by 
way of preface. " A story of our King and of my 
brother. You would hear it ? " 

" Please, mademoiselle. If you please." 

" In French, m'sieu," she went on; " yes? Well, then ! 
Our officers were bad, all bad. That is why we lost." 

I nodded in sympathy. 

" Always they were drinking or idling. My brother, 
he was of the artillery, stationed near Antwerp. And one 
afternoon comes the King, alone, marching into the fort 
on foot. The King stared about him as one does in a 
dream, for there was not an officer, not one single officer, 
only private soldiers and one sergeant, there beside the 
big guns. 

" ( Where are your officers? ' cried the King. 


' Sire, they have gone to an inn to to drink 
champagne/ says my brother. 

"'What?' thundered the King. 'They have gone 
where ? ' 

" ' To an inn, Your Majesty/ says my brother again. 

" ' Leaving the forts in charge of a sergeant ? ' 

" ' Yes, Your Majesty/ 

" ' Send for them at once/ cried the King, and his 
eyes glittered. 

" After a quarter of an hour they came, very shame- 
faced, riding on their fine horses. From the pocket of 
one of them there stuck out a champagne bottle ! 

"The officers saluted the King, much frightened. 
' Get down off your horses/ he ordered. 

" They climbed down awkwardly, with legs of wood. 

" ' You are under arrest/ said the King. He thrust 
out his hand suddenly and pulled the wine bottle from 
the pocket of him who had it. ' For this you betray a 
kingdom for wine and an hour at the inn/ he said. 
' Give me your swords/ 

" They gave them up. 

" Then the King took the swords and snapped them in 
two across his knee before the faces of the officers and 
men. And the King wept." 



ON a cold, clammy afternoon in late November, three 
young Americans stood in the Pass Bureau at Antwerp, 
chatting with Lieutenant Sperling, aide to Baron von 
Hiihne, the German Governor of the fortress and prov- 
ince of Antwerp. The bureau was a rambling suite of 
offices in the old Belgian Ministry of Colonies on the 
Marche aux Souliers. The floor was bare planks. The 
furniture was cheap oak, scarred and dented. Outside, 
under the wide windows, stood rows of military auto- 
mobiles, their gray hoods marked " General Government, 
Fortress Antwerp," and sentries scuffed to and fro in the 
paved courtyard. The street before the bureau was 
clear of pedestrians, for the Germans did not permit 
Belgians to walk past headquarters, unless on official 
business. Next door, in the Hotel Saint Antoine, where 
British and Belgian officers had lodged during the siege, 
and where German officers now lived, a shell had punched 
a neat round hole near the roof facing the Place Verte, 
and across the street, in the Marche aux Souliers, stood 
the gutted hulks of a score of shops, burned during the 



bombardment. The ruins were partially hidden by a neat 
wooden fence which served as bulletin-board for the 
Antwerp Animal Rescue League, the Belgian Red Cross, 
and the German General Government. 

An official proclamation, still posted, although Ant- 
werp had fallen a month and a half before, read : 

The German Army enters your city as a victor. No harm 
will be done to any citizen, and your property will be spared 
if you avoid any hostile action. Any insubordination will 
be punished by court-martial, and may result in the destruc- 
tion of your beautiful city. 

In the offices of the Pass Bureau, a lithograph of 
Kaiser Wilhelm Second and two cheap picture postcards 
showing German soldiers off for the front were pasted 
on the walls, and perched above a bookcase stood a 
plaster bust of Leopold First, Belgium's first king. Four 
or five soldiers sat about at little tables laboriously writ- 
ing out passes in longhand, or interrogating sad-eyed 
Belgians who filed in one by one from the long, black, 
silent queue waiting outside in the cold. While we 
watched, the bureau closed for the night. 

" Geschlossen! " muttered an under-officer, rising 
from his chair. 

"If you please, monsieur " began one of the Bel- 

" No ! It's shut ! Out ! " he exclaimed. And a soldier 
hustled the applicant to the door. 


" Please, Herr Lieutenant." 

Sperling wheeled and faced an orderly standing stiffly 
at attention. 

" The passes are for ? " 

" Lieutenant Herbster, U. S. N., Mr. G. Evans Hub- 
bard, and Mr. Edward Eyre Hunt," he answered in Ger- 

" Danke sehr. The gentlemen are from ?" 

" Hague, Holland." 

"Citizens of ?" 

"The United States of America. All the gentlemen 
are Americans." 

"To go from Antwerp to Brussels and return?" 

" Antwerp to Brussels." 

" For civil or military automobile, Herr Lieutenant ? " 

" Military automobile, of course. The gentlemen are 

The Lieutenant turned again to us and continued : " It 
is fine, eh? Everything for me is paid. I have a suite 
of three rooms in the Hotel Saint Antoine, where His 
Excellency the Governor and the others of the staff live. 
I have a bedroom, a drawing-room, a bath, worth 
twenty-seven marks in Berlin. My breakfast, that is two 
marks ; a cigar, one mark ; lunch, six marks ; benedictine, 
two marks; another cigar, one mark; coffee, one mark; 
dinner, seven marks; liqueur, three marks; cigars and 
coffee, two marks. Then I have my chauffeur and my 
valet. All free. I pay nothing. Fine, eh? Altogether 


I have seventy or eighty marks' worth every day 

" That sounds like an easy way of getting a living. 
Don't you pay the Belgians for anything? " 

" No," he said. " If one is a German officer, one goes 
into any restaurant, any hotel in Antwerp, and one signs 
one's name for the things one eats. Like a club in 
America, eh ? It is by the menu de requisition. How do 
you say that in English ? " 

" Requisition bill-of-fare." 

:< Yes. And the city pays all. The restaurant keeper 
sends the bill to the city. Fine, eh? And we Germans 
eat and drink very much ! Everything is requisitioned." 

" Do they pay even for champagne suppers? " 


" Does the city pay your wine bills ? " 

" Certainly." 

"Don't the people object?" 

The Lieutenant drew himself up proudly. " They are 
Belgians; we are Germans. They make no objections. 
. . . Ah, here are your Scheins" 

A soldier clicked his heels and presented three sheets 
of green paper, duly filled out in longhand and stamped 
" Kommandantur von Antwerpen." 

"Thanks, Lieutenant. Thanks especially for arrang- 
ing it so we can go to Brussels by auto. The English 
newspapers say you haven't many automobiles and no 
benzine. We appreciate your kindness." 


lie smiled broadly. " So? You can see we have 
many automobiles in Antwerp, and we have benzol in- 
stead of benzine. We have potatoes for alcohol; we 
have coal; so we have plenty of benzol, eh? ... A mo- 
ment," he added. " Perhaps I go to Brussels tomorrow 
morning. Then I take you. I will show you the ruins. 
Very interesting. Very nice ruins." 

" Oh, thanks awfully." 

" Eight o'clock, then, we start. I will show you the 


We three Americans bowed ceremoniously and walked 
out. On the steps below the sign lettered "Pass-Zen- 
trale, Antwerpen" and " Intendantur " a sentry drew 
aside and stood a salute. Herbster, U. S. N., smiled 
happily at the compliment. " The ' Deutschers ' aren't 
so awful, are they? " he asked. ..." Now let's go look 
at what the Zeppelins did to Antwerp ! " 


At eight o'clock in the morning, German time, Lieu- 
tenant Sperling's gray Mercedes car stood puffing outside 
our hotel. We climbed hastily into the tonneau and 
buried ourselves to the chin under fur rugs and lap robes. 
It was mercilessly cold and black as ink. A drizzle of 
icy rain fell, and the streets were dark and dead as a 
buried city. The Lieutenant flashed a pocket lamp over 
the car and its occupants. By the flashlight we saw two 


rifles standing stiff and forbidding beside the military 
chauffeur, and in the bottom of the car, two packets of 
official mail destined for the Governor-General in 

"Right?" asked Lieutenant Sperling, slipping into a 
balloon silk raincoat and preparing to drive the automo- 
bile himself. 

" Right/' we answered, our teeth chattering. 

' You remember the musical-comedy, * Pink Lady '? " 
he asked. " I have seen her in New York." And as 
we slid from before the lighted hotel into the dark, dead 
tunnel-like streets of Antwerp, he began lustily to sing: 

" To you, beeyoutifool ladie, I raise my eyes ; 
My heart, beeyoutifool ladie, to your heart sighs." . . . 

A red lantern, waving in crazy arcs, stopped us at the 
city gates. " Halt! halt! wohinf " bellowed rough voices 
from the gloom. " General Government ! " the chauffeur 
answered. " Good ! " came the response, and we dashed 
on down the road. This happened seven times in an 
hour's ride, except that the lantern gave place to a red 
flag as morning advanced. 

Darkness and a misty rain still hid everything. We 
could scarcely see each other's faces. There was no sun- 
rise on that cold November morning. It seemed instead 
as if the rain slowly became luminous as light fought its 
way from the east. The landscape lay blurred and 


drenched a vista of burned villages and muddy roads. 
It was a country seen through tears. 

Lieutenant Sperling's pleasant chatter roused us at 
intervals. "You see that?" he asked, p9inting with 
pride to a hillock near the road. I fancied I saw the 
pin of an old windmill and a clutter of ruins. "A Zep- 
pelin did that," he went on. " It was a practice shot." 

We raced along beside heaps of bricks and ashes 
which had once been picturesque Flemish villages. The 
whitewashed walls were shrapnel-pitted, so that the 
bricks showed through red, like blood. In frozen, muddy 
fields along our route, bent old peasants worked on 
turnip mounds. Cabbages lay heels up in hillocks which 
looked as if they must have served some military pur- 
pose. There were trenches in almost every line of brush 
or trees along the Antwerp-Brussels highway: careless, 
grubby trenches built by the Belgians, mathematical, 
business-like, criss-cross trenches built by the invaders. 
There were quick burrows which a man could throw up 
in a quarter of an hour with his kit shovel, pits with 
sharpened stakes in them to break up cavalry charges, 
and brambly barbed-wire entanglements which looked as 
if they had been woven by a crazy spider, and which 
were frosted and dripping like a spider web on a win- 
ter's morning. 

The rain changed to a drizzle, and we could see much 
better, but our depression grew. I was fated to travel 
that Antwerp-Brussels highway for a year, but always 


with the same feeling of sadness which I felt on first 
seeing it. Innumerable trees were scarred by shells. 
Huge holes, half full of mud and ice, were gouged in 
roads and fields. Farm-house after farm-house had been 
burned or else destroyed by shell-fire. And once we 
noticed a broken cradle beside what had been a doorway 
in the murdered village of Waelhem. 

" Good shooting," remarked Lieutenant Sperling. 
" Our artillery, I think it is the best in the world, eh? " 

At the bitterly contested crossing of the river Nethe, 
where the Belgians fought to hold the enemy from the 
advance on Antwerp, where they flooded the country, 
blew up all the bridges, and charged again and again in 
the face of overwhelming artillery fire, there stood a lit- 
tle earthen mound and a big black cross. The inscrip- 
tion was in German script, lettered white on black. I 
caught only a part of it while the sentries examined our 
passes. " Thirty-eight brave soldiers who died for the 
Fatherland," it read. I do not know if the dead were 
Belgians or Germans. The conquerors write the same 
words over fallen foes as over friends. 

Beside the bridge stood a Belgian with a collection 
box, begging contributions for the poor of Wael- 

The embankments and gun-cupolas of Fort Waelhem, 
first of the Antwerp forts to fall, were plowed up as if 
by a gigantic steam-shovel. " Forty-two centimeter 
shells," explained the Lieutenant. The fort was a gravel 


bank. And all along the road were graves. Men had 
been buried as they fell ; sometimes singly, sometimes in 
groups. Each grave was marked with a new lath cross. 
Some of the crosses bore bunches of artificial flowers or 
wreaths, or simple crowns of tissue paper, dripping with 
wet. Some of them held a German Pickelhaube, or else 

a shapeless, flat service-cap. 


But the village of Waelhem was most pitiful. It was 
a living grave. Of its two thousand inhabitants, twelve 
hundred had already returned. Not a house in the vil- 
lage had been spared, yet the refugees came back to their 
hearthsides, and were living in huts constructed against 
the empty brick walls, with curtains of bed-clothing to 
keep out the beating rain. 

And romantic, unworldly Malines was a city of gray 
ghosts. The gray rain fell incessantly, but we could see 
the south side of the famous cathedral of Saint Rombaut, 
a mass of repulsive wreckage, in which the big stained- 
glass windows hung shattered and inert, and the gigantic 
tower the " eighth wonder of the world," according to 
Vauban punctured with shrapnel, where the dead bells 
of the carillon still hung. German soldiers lounged be- 
fore the dilapidated old Cloth Hall. Our automobile 
passed through a Red Sea of debris piled higher than the 
tonneau on either side of the market-place. Walls were 
sheered away like theater-sets, showing flowered wall- 
papers and battered furniture, and floors cascading craz- 
ily down to the street. Three hundred and fifteen houses 


had been totally destroyed and fifteen hundred damaged, 
for Malines was bombarded four times. 

Near Eppeghem a white swan paddled serenely in an 
ornamental pond. On the borders of the pond were 
crosses marking graves, and willows burned and slashed 
by shells. 

A few farm-houses, made habitable again, bore the 
magic words " chocolate " and " milk " chalked up on 
doors, so the returning refugees might buy. 

It was with vast relief that we reached Brussels, where 
there had been no fighting and no destruction, where 
beauty was unmarred by the ruin of war, even if be- 
draggled and ashamed. 

A stiff line of German Boy Scouts stood before the 
beautiful hotels on the Pare, where Governor-General 
von der Goltz had his offices. They looked pathetically 
tired and lonely so far from home, but kept eyes front 
and shoulders back like maturer servants of the Kaiser. 
Lieutenant Sperling smiled as we drew up before them, 
but he returned their salute gravely. "Jung Deutsch- 
land! Young Germany," he whispered to us. ... 

" And now for the Hotel Astoria, on the rue Royale, 
eh ? " he said. " You will be the only foreigners in the 
hotel. It is for Germans. Requisitioned." As we drew 
up at the curb, he was still singing lustily: 

" To you, beeyoutifool ladie, I raise my eyes ; 
My heart, beeyoutifool ladie, to your heart sighs; 


Come, come, beeyoutifool ladie, to Paradise. 

Dream, dream, dream, and forget 

Care, pain, useless regret, 

Love, love, beeyoutifool ladie, in my heart sings." 


Several times after that we had occasion to use our 
military passes and to ride in German automobiles. The 
officers always seemed glad to have us, and they seemed 
to us amazingly boyish and care-free. What they 
wanted, they took. They even requisitioned women's 
underwear from lockers in the Brussels Golf Club, 
and of course wine was always fair spoils, whether 
paid for by the Intendantur or not. Almost every one 
of them had an automobile at his disposal, and they 
appeared everywhere, riding freely about the country 
in spite of the fabled shortage of gasolene and tires. 
The peasants, whether on foot or in their little dog- 
and donkey-carts, were desperately afraid of the " joy- 
riders." The screech of a Klaxon, or the shrill, frivo- 
lous yodel of an automobile fife, such as many of 
the German motorists affected, would clear the narrow 
Flemish roads quick as light. But that was not always 
enough to satisfy the officers. They howled picturesque 
German curses at the ignorant peasant drivers, apparently 
for the fun of the thing, and then whizzed off down the 
road, giving horn with all the delight of a coaching party 
in a Dickens novel. 

Among themselves they were a good-natured, senti- 


mental lot of warriors, in spick and span uniforms and 
well greased boots. Most of them were typical, square- 
headed, smooth-shaven, slash-cheeked giants, who seemed 
to be playing at a game called war. Many times they 
carried with them in the automobile, gifts for the sen- 
tries along the route: cakes of chocolate, cigars, or 
copies of the Kolnische Zeitung, Berliner Tageblatt, 
Kreuz Zeitung, Die Woche, and Frankfurter Zeitung. 
Sometimes the sentries stopped us; more often they did 
not ; but on one occasion when a conscientious sentry did 
his full duty and compelled every one in the car, officers 
included, to show passes, a major told me the classic 
story of Kaiser Wilhelm Second at the Prussian manceu- 
vers, attempting to dash past a sentry. The sentry 
promptly presented his rifle and compelled the imperial 
automobile to halt. 

" Do you know me ? " demanded the Kaiser angrily, 
removing his automobile goggles and glaring at the sol- 

" Ja, Majestat" answered the sentry, "but I have 
orders to stop everybody." 

" Umph ! " snorted the Kaiser. Then his stern face 
melted into a smile. " You are right, my son," he said, 
and he saluted the soldier and ordered the car to go 
back by the way it had come. . . . 

I have seen the sentries give money or other little gifts 
to Flemish children. Frequently the men on sentry duty 


were old Landsturm soldiers who had children of their 
own in the Fatherland, and with characteristic German 
sentiment felt deeply their privation. On the whole the 
sentries were simple, ignorant men, anxious to please, 
and mystified by the elaborate orders they had to exe- 
cute. Usually they were much astonished to learn my 
nationality. Once when a sentry had carefully studied 
my passport, he said in a pleasant tone of astonishment : 
" Ah, so you are an American ! " 

" Yes," I answered. Then, thinking the man had been 
in America, I asked if he had traveled much. 

" Ach, nein" he said emphatically, " Belgium is quite 
far enough from home ! " 

Brussels, the proud Paris of the north, clung desper- 
ately to her self-respect and tried to ignore the Germans. 
Shutters were up on many of the fashionable shops. 
The best hotels were full of officers who lived by requisi- 
tion. General von Luttwitz, military governor of Brus- 
sels, inhabited a beautiful palace on the rue de la Loi, 
a magnificent residence with priceless carpets and enor- 
mous cloisonne vases on the grand staircase. Such 
places were hives of soldiers; orderlies rushed to and 
fro carrying rabbits and pheasants for the general's 
table, and a persistent smell of soup swam through 
the mansion. The Germans stinted themselves for 

Beggars wandered about the streets. Women holding 


young babies in their arms stood on all the curbs, beg- 
ging openly, or selling matches and shoestrings. On the 
street cars, where soldiers rode free, citizens proudly 
turned their backs, or refused to sit beside the hated uni- 
forms, and in the crowded cafes they frequently left the 
place entirely rather than sip beer or coffee beside the 

It was hard for Belgian pride. There were no flags 
but German flags; there was very little currency, except 
German marks and pfennigs, for the people hoarded their 
Belgian National Bank notes, and silver and copper had 
ceased to circulate; there was no opera; there were no 
theaters; there were only a few moving-picture shows, 
where John Bunny and Lillian Walker smiled on Bel- 
gians and Germans alike from the flickering films. The 
Royal Palace was a Red Cross hospital. On the heights 
beside the Palais de Justice the Acropolis of Brussels 
German cannon frowned down upon the city. The 
Grand' Place echoed to soldiers' steps, and the rue de la 
Loi, beside the Pare, was closed to all but Germans. The 
splendors of Brussels dripped ooze, her park walks were 
churned up by the hooves of German war-horses, and 
even the alleys " reserved for children's games " were 
appropriated for the drilling of raw cavalrymen. Thou- 
sands of Belgians every day besieged the Pass Bureau 
for permits to travel. The soup kitchens and bread lines 
were thronged. There was no work to do. The rust of 
idleness was on everything. An occasional aeroplane 


from the Allies dropped little celluloid tubes containing 
encouraging news, but the Germans, waging a success- 
ful war, insolently published all the news, even the offi- 
cial reports of the Allies. 

Above the prostrate Belgians, like another race or 
another caste, roared and flashed the brilliant, careless, 
militaristic Teutons, their lives hedged about with glory 
and sudden death. 

When an officer went to the front, his fellows gave 
him a huge dinner. They drank much, occasionally they 
wept a little, but he whose duty it was to go always made 
the occasion one for congratulations and conviviality. 
Then in his spickest and spannest new gray-green uni- 
form, with the black-and-white ribbon of the Iron Cross 
in his buttonhole, he climbed into a waiting automobile 
and shot noisily down the dark streets on his way to the 

For a week the King of Saxony had the rooms directly 
below our suite in the Hotel Astoria. Governor-General 
Kolmar von der Goltz ("Goltz Pasha") was a caller 
at our hotel. I saw him the day he left Belgium for 
Turkey. He was a big, heavy man, with keen, humorous 
eyes behind his thick glasses; his left breast smothered 
in decorations. There was some sort of wen on his left 
cheek, and he wore two strips of black court-plaster set 
at right angles across it, looking ludicrously like the 
Iron Cross. . . . One day there was unusual stir among 


the officers. " Be here at ten o'clock tomorrow morn- 
ing," they said, "and you will see the Kaiser." But I 
had business elsewhere, and so missed the golden oppor- 
tunity to look on the War Lord. 

Late one night, Lieutenant Herbster and I were invited 
to meet some of the officers. It was nearly midnight. 
The group about the long table in the Hotel Astoria 
had been drinking, so that our intrusion produced a 
marked effect. There was much bowing and scraping, 
clicking of heels, and commenting, the nature of which 
I did not altogether understand. But I found myself 
seated at the table, face to face with the aide to a 
colonel high in command in Brussels, and found to my 
astonishment that I had known the man as a student in 
Harvard University. 

The colonel a hard, thin old Prussian, who was 
partly drunk and genuinely offensive gave me a taste 
of what some of the Germans thought of American re- 
lief for Belgium. " You Americans are a nation of 
sentimental fools," he snorted. " You want to feed 
these franc-tireurs, these barbarians of Belgians. If you 
did the right thing, you would give the German army the 
food that you are bringing over for these wretches." . . . 

Directly across the table was an officer named 
Coumbus, a fine-looking man of perhaps thirty-five, who 
had resided for years in England, and was an officer of 
cavalry. His perfect English and agreeable manners at- 
tracted Lieutenant Herbster and me, and after the other 


officers had withdrawn, the three of us still sat and 

"There are a lot of wounded Africans in a hospital 
here in Brussels/' he informed us. " And in one ward 
the doctor has been clever enough to put a Scotchman 
along with the niggers. I go up every day to visit him. 
Do you know, it pleases me to see that Johnnie lying 
there with his face to the wall, trying to keep out the 
smell of the blacks. . . . Damn these inferior races ! 

"The Belgians are the poorest of the lot, though. 
They do not understand war, and they do not understand 
the rules of war. I remember once riding into a little 
town down here in the south of Belgium and finding my 
four scouts lying dead in the streets. Civilians had 
butchered horses and men shot them from behind. I 
ordered my men to go into the houses and kill every one 
they found. Then I ordered them to burn the town." 

He leaned over the table and concluded quietly, " There 
once was a nice little town in that place. There is no 
such town now." . . . 

There was a cat-and-mouse air about the occupation. 
The army seemed to play with the country, and thor- 
oughly to enjoy itself. But with this went also the 
traditional German enthusiasm for sight-seeing in order 
to improve the mind. Some of the officers and most of 
the men were in Belgium for the first time. They felt it 
was an opportunity not to be lost, and I often saw them 


with little red-bound Baedekers in their pockets, " do- 
ing " the Belgian cities with the thoroughness of holiday 

Herr Baedeker is singularly felicitous in some 
of his Belgian notes, if read in connection with the 
war. " Dixmude," he remarks blandly, " is a quiet little 
town on the Yser ! " " Nieuport is a small and quiet 
place on the Yser, noted for its obstinate resistance to 
the French in 1489 and for the ' Battle of the Dunes ' in 
July, 1600, in which the Dutch defeated the Spaniards 
under Archduke Albert." Of Termonde he says, 
"Louis XIV besieged this place in 1667, but was com- 
pelled to retreat, as the besieged, by opening the sluices, 
laid the whole district under water." Blankenberghe is 
"a small fishing town with 6,100 inhabitants, visited by 
45,000 persons annually, half of whom are Germans ! " 
And of unhappy Ypres the learned author observes, 
" The siege of the town and burning of the suburbs by 
the English and the burghers of Ghent in 1383 caused 
the last of the weavers to migrate ! " 


But the Germans were working as well as playing. 
Their organizing power was amazing. To choose an ex- 
pert, to put him in charge of a department, to give him 
a clerk or two, and then to leave him alone, seemed all 
there is to the modern miracle of German administra- 


Belgium was not treated as an administrative unit. Gov- 
ernor-General von der Goltz, and later Governor-General 
von Bissing, controlled only about two-thirds of the ter- 
ritory actually occupied by the German armies. Ant- 
werp, Brussels, Liege, Namur, Dinant, Mons, all these 
fell to his share. But Ghent was in a second division, 
governed by a general of the Etapp * en-Inspection. 
Bruges constituted still another division, controlled by an 
admiral of the Imperial navy, where sailors from the 
fleets in Hamburg, Kiel, and Wilhelmshaven, their rib- 
bons tucked up under their sailor caps and in landsman's 
uniforms, fought as infantry. And along the fighting 
lines in Belgium and northern France, each army 
corps was a separate unit of government, responsible 
only to the General Staff Headquarters at Charleville, or 
to the Emperor personally. 

" But in Belgium it is like the old religious and secu- 
lar governments in the Middle Ages/' they explained. 
" We have always a civil and a military arm to our gov- 
ernment. In each Belgian province the government is 
dual. In each military county (Kreis) or Belgian ar- 
rondissement, we have Kreischef and commandant. 
You have seen it? Even the villages are garrisoned and 
governed. We do not interfere with the Belgian local 
self-government or the local courts; but we have our 
dual government to oversee them. We have soldiers 

"And spies?" 


" Spies, too. The Belgians must be quiet. His Ex- 
cellency the Governor has promised the armies that Bel- 
gium will be kept quiet. That is most important." 

" Do you expect outbreaks ? " 

" We expect everything and nothing. We anticipate 
everything. That is the German way. . . . The Bel- 
gians will be kept quiet." 

The new Governor-General, Baron von Bissing, took 
office immediately after " Goltz Pasha " left for Turkey. 
His position carried with it the dignity and authority of 
royalty. His proclamations were written in the first per- 
son : " I command. ... I ordain. ... I decree." They 
say that in his youth Governor-General von Bissing was 
a chum of the Kaiser's and that the Kaiser used to pay 
the bills at a time when his friend's personal fortune 
was too small to permit even of the ordinary expendi- 
tures of a dashing young army officer. If that is true 
General von Bissing has advanced a long way since then. 
He lives in a Belgian palace, he rules a nation, and he 
stands on a par, under the War Lord, with the petty 
monarchs of some of the oldest German states. 

Many officers in the Civil Government were Germans 
who had lived for years in Belgium and had been on 
excellent terms with the Belgian Government and peo- 
ple. Others had made special studies of Belgian condi- 
tions. The German Civil Governor in Brussels, Excel- 
lenz von Sandt, was formerly president of the Local 


Government Board at Aix-la-Chapelle ; the head of the 
Department of Engineering and Public Works, Coun- 
cilor of Justice Trimborn of Cologne and member of the 
Reichstag, was formerly German Consul-General in 
Brussels; the head of the Brussels Pass Bureau, Lieu- 
tenant Behrens, was, until the day war broke out, head 
of a pool of shipping companies in Antwerp and had 
resided there for years. The Belgains doubtless were 
right in believing that their conquerors knew where every 
stick of furniture, every horse and cow, every cart and 
automobile, every man, every gun, and every franc in 
Belgium was to be found. . . . 

I called one day at the offices of the Civil Govern- 
ment in Brussels, called in German Zivilverwaltung , to 
learn something of Belgian agricultural conditions in 
normal years. Herr Doktor Frost was introduced to me 
a thin, studious young man in lieutenant's uniform, to 
whom I explained my wants. " How much wheat, how 
much rye, how much oats, how much barley does Bel- 
gium produce in average years ? " I asked. 

Lieutenant Frost smiled and leaned across his study- 
desk, pointing to a bulky blue-bound book lying before 
him. " Look in the book," he said, smiling as if at a 
joke. " Page 367; paragraph two. You find it? Yes? " 

I pored over the concise academic tables with their 
crisp footnotes in German script. Every bit of informa- 
tion I wanted regarding the crops of Belgium stood on 
that page. Then I closed the book and scanned the 


cover. " The Agricultural Resources of Belgium," it 
read; "by Doctor Walther Frost, Munich, 1913." . . . 

The retreat of the Belgian armies and government had 
removed every trace of national organization. King, 
Cabinet, and Parliament were lost at a stroke. The 
Royal Provincial Governors were deprived of their seats, 
and the nine provinces and their constituent communes 
were isolated and prostrate. 

The only nucleus of a governmental connection be- 
tween the invaders and the Belgian people was the Bel- 
gian Permanent Deputation a sort of executive com- 
mittee of the Provincial Councils, which exists whether 
the councils are sitting or adjourned. Its powers are not 
important. The Royal Provincial Governor is its presi- 
dent. Now, by military decree, the German Civil Gov- 
ernors assumed the presidency of the nine Permanent 
Deputations, and the structure of civil government was 
re-erected. The communal authorities were, for the 
most part, left in possession of their normal powers and 
responsibilities, subject always to the military. The Bel- 
gian courts were not greatly disturbed, although their 
decisions were subject to military review. Belgian agents 
de police, in uniform, but deprived of their short cut- 
lasses, kept order in the communes ; Belgians manned the 
fire-departments and kept the prisons; Belgian customs 
officers served at the frontiers, although their services 
were largely perfunctory; Belgian employees managed 


the street- and light railways, although the regular 
state railways were entirely in the hands of the mili- 
tary and no Belgian could go near them ; Belgian gardes 
champetres continued to serve as rural police; Belgian 
burgomasters and aldermen went through the motions, 
at least, of local self-government; and the Belgian relief 
work, whether feeding and clothing the destitute, or giv- 
ing money to the needy, remained entirely outside the 
German sphere of influence, in the hands of the Belgians 
and the \merican nembers of the Commission for Re- 
lief in Belgium. The sole exception was the Belgian 
Red Cross which was taken over bodily by the German 
authorities and placed under the control of a German 
administration with Prince Hatzfeldt at its head. 

Two things the Germans wanted of the Belgians 
quiet and cash. These two things they got. 1 
* See Appendix II, page 331- 




FEW know in detail the situation in which Belgium 
found herself in the autumn of 1914. The invasion by 
the German armies overwhelmed the country almost as 
completely as an avalanche overwhelms a village lying in 
its path. The superstructure of civilized society was 
swept away. 

Belgium had been the most highly industrialized coun- 
try in the world. It imported seventy-eight per cent of 
its breadstuffs. Its own agricultural products afforded 
sustenance to the population for only four months out 
of the year. For the other eight months the country 
was dependent upon imported foods; much of them 
quickly perishable. A peaceable interruption of overseas 
or overland commerce would have brought the whole 
country into immediate sight of starvation, even without 
the horrors of invasion. 

For weeks following the outbreak of war trans- 
atlantic traffic was virtually suspended. American food- 
stuffs remained in American warehouses while European 
consumers were in growing need of them. The ship in 



which I sailed for Europe on August twenty-fourth 
carried a large cargo of flour, for the distress in neutral 
Holland was acute even in the first month of the war. 
Belgium was suffering as much as or more than Hol- 
land ; but in addition to this the land was overrun by the 
Germans, and an acute crisis was transformed into an 
overwhelming disaster. 

Forty-nine per cent of the population were salary and 
wage earners. Almost half the population, then, was 
dependent on the normal functioning of industry. 

Credit, which is the basis of modern industrial activity 
and the rock-bottom basis of Belgium's national exist- 
ence, was shattered by the shock of the German armies. 
Within ten weeks from the fourth of August almost the 
entire country was in the possession of the enemy. With 
credit destroyed, production came to an instant stand- 
still. Mines and workshops, factories and mills closed, 
and panic seized the land. The whole of the working 
population was plunged into the deepest misery. 

The harvest was being gathered as war broke on the 
country and the ripe crops were left standing in the 
fields where they were trampled by the armies or left to 
rot. Belgium on July thirty-first was a land of intense 
activity. A week later it was a land of the unemployed. 
July thirty-first found 1,757,489 men, women, and chil- 
dren occupied in upwards of seven hundred industries. 
1,204,810 people were tilling the land. August seventh 
found practically every man, woman, and child on farms, 


in fields, on canals, on railroads, in every village, town, 
and city, suddenly idle, without work, and without food. 

Preceding the westward march of the invaders came 
a wave of refugees. Uprooted from the soil, flung from 
villages and cities invaded, often burned and pillaged, 
they fled westward, carrying with them panic and blind 
terror. While Belgium's heroic army by its stand at 
Liege and Namur may have saved Paris and Calais, it 
could not save its own country. As the Germans ad- 
vanced they seized every line of communication, the 
railroads, street-cars, canals, telegraphs, telephones, and 
mails. The copper nerves and iron veins which are the 
life of every modern nation were wrenched from the 
Belgians. Every village was cut off from its neighbor; 
every town from the next town. There was no means 
of transport, except for German troops, so that every 
commune, from the tiniest village to the greatest city, 
was suddenly isolated, ignorant of what was happening 
a few miles off, and unable to ascertain the most vital 
news, except through a few hasty words that might fall 
from the shaking lips of fugitives. 

Belgium was singular among industrial nations in hav- 
ing a great mass of floating labor. The policy of the 
Government-owned railway system had been to make 
transportation for the working classes as reasonable as 
possible, so that it was the cheapest system of transport 
in the world. At the same time a system of peasant 
proprietorship in land had been fostered for many years 


by the Government, but under it the peasant could barely 
sustain life. The man of the family often migrated from 
place to place during the summer months, working in the 
mines, in the farms and vineyards of France, while his 
wife and children cultivated his tiny holding. By strict 
economy he was able to make both ends meet, although, 
even so, tens of thousands of workers found it neces- 
sary during the winter months to make lace; Belgium's 
great lace-making industry being largely parasitic. 

J. DeC. MacDonnel has fitly described the state of 
these workers. 1 " There are no villages, broadly speak- 
ing, that are purely agricultural. Men who labor in the 
towns continue to reside in the most distant part of the 
country, rising in the first hours after midnight to tramp 
miles along dark roads to a railroad station, and travel 
thence almost incredible distances, day after day, by 
train to their work. These are the workmen whom 
astonished tourists see sleeping in doorways and by 
roadsides in the streets and suburbs of Antwerp, Brus- 
sels, Ghent, or any of the Belgian cities during the mid- 
day hour of rest, and snoring in the evening, their weary 
bodies piled on top of each other, on the benches and 
floors of the waiting-rooms of railway stations and in 
the third class railway carriages." 

Under such conditions, transport facilities, and the 

*J. DeC. MacDonnel's Belgium, Her Kings, Kingdom, and 
People, published by Little, Brown & Co., is an interesting though 
biased account of conditions before the war. The author is some- 
times a better churchman than historian. 


railways in particular, were essential to the people ; and 
these were the first of Belgium's necessities upon which 
the Germans seized. Many of the canals were blocked 
by the retreating army ; barges were sunk, bridges blown 
up, and dykes cut ; and as it was by means of the canals 
that the bulk of the foodstuffs normally was distributed 
over the country, the food-supply was automatically cut 

As the Germans occupied town after town, province 
after province, they quartered soldiers upon the Belgians, 
and these hastened the consumption of what little food 
was available. General von Emmich's proclamation to 
the Belgians before Liege ran : 

I gave formal guarantee to the Belgian population that it 
will not have to suffer the horrors of war ; that we shall pay 
in money for the food we must take from the country ; that 
our soldiers will show themselves to be the best friends of 
a people for whom we entertain the highest esteem, the 
greatest sympathy. 

But the patriotic resistance of the Belgians changed 
all this. General von Beseler's despatch to the Kaiser 
following the fall of Antwerp is typical of the psy- 
chology of the soldier, and has a curiously medieval 

The war booty taken at Antwerp is enormous: at least 
500 cannon and huge quantities of ammunition, sanitation 
materials, numerous high-power motor-cars, locomotives, 


wagons, 4,000,000 kilograms of wheat, large quantities 
of flour, coal, and flax wool, the value of which is estimated 
at 10,000,000 marks; copper, silver, one armored-train, 
several hospital trains, and quantities of fish. 

There are few of the raw materials of industry which 
cannot be put to some military use. A great part of the 
machinery of peace-time can be converted into machinery 
with which to manufacture implements of war. Above 
all soldiers need food and consume it in immense quan- 
tities. Finding all these things at hand in Belgium the 
Germans proceeded to commandeer them right and left. 
Linseed oil, oil-cakes, nitrates, animal and vegetable oils 
of all sorts, petroleum and mineral oils, wool, copper, 
rubber, ivory, cocoa, rice, wine, beer anything and 
everything that men could consume or that the German 
factories could utilize were seized and transported to 
the Fatherland. In many cases the goods were con- 
fiscated; in others they were requisitioned by the con- 
querors, a price was decided upon, and payment prom- 
ised at some convenient time in the future. 

Belgium was gutted. 


From the isolated communes came frantic appeals for 
help. The Belgians appealed first to the Germans, who 
in some cases divided their army rations with the people, 
although this was unsystematic and utterly useless when 
seven millions were concerned. They appealed to their 


neighbor Holland, but the Dutch were eating war bread 
and anxiously hoarding every bit of foodstuff, for they 
were as yet unable to import enough for their own uses. 
They appealed to Brussels, sending purchasing agents 
with dog-carts to buy a little flour and potatoes in the 
open market; for Brussels was officially the capital, and 
they were accustomed to turn to Brussels. 

But Brussels, like themselves, was isolated and face 
to face with famine. The sole advantage it possessed 
over the other communes was a volunteer relief organi- 
zation, called the Central Relief Committee (le Comite 
Central de Seeours et d' Alimentation pour I' Agglomera- 
tion bruxelloise) , formed on September fifth under the 
patronage of the American and Spanish Ministers, Mr. 
Brand Whitlock and the Marquis of Villalobar. 

In every little village there was a Bureau de Bien- 
faisance; often there was a Society of Saint Vincent de 
Paul and a Comite de Seeours. In the larger cities there 
were sturdy branches of the Red Cross, with committees 
of charity, cheap restaurants, committees to take charge 
of the children of soldiers, to provide proper diet for 
nursing mothers, and a variety of other relief organiza- 
tions, secular and religious, such as the Little Sisters of 
the Poor, mainly under the auspices of the Roman 
Catholic Church. 

But though the local machinery was at hand there 
were first four general problems to face : the re-establish- 
ment of order and credit abroad; the right to transport 


foodstuffs through the British blockade into territory in 
the hands of the Germans ; the right to use the transport 
facilities of Belgium in the distribution of such imports; 
and the securing of a guarantee that the Germans would 
requisition for themselves nothing thus imported for the 
Belgian population. 

The Central Relief Committee, which had been formed 
to care for the wants of Brussels, appealed through its 
American and Spanish Minister-patrons to Governor- 
General Kolmar von der Goltz to guarantee the safety 
of any supplies which might be purchased or donated 
abroad for the benefit of the Belgian civil population. 
On October sixteenth the Governor-General gave formal 
assurance that " foodstuffs of all sorts imported by the 
Committee to assist the civil population shall be reserved 
exclusively for the nourishment of the civil population 
of Belgium, and that consequently these foodstuffs shall 
be exempt from requisition on the part of the military 
authorities and shall rest exclusively at the disposition 
of the Committee." 

Meanwhile Mr. Whitlock had appealed officially to the 
United States Government. In the London Times for 
Wednesday, October fourteenth, 1914, is the following 
telegram : 

NEW YORK, October 13. The Administration cannot 
permit Mr. Page to have food supplies for the starving 
population of Brussels shipped in his name to Mr. Whit- 
lock until the German Government sanctions this step. Mr. 


Page's urgent representations concerning the immediate 
necessity of relieving the wants of Brussels were communi- 
cated to Germany last Wednesday, but no reply has yet 
been received." 

Armed with the assurance given by Governor-General 
von der Goltz that nothing imported by the committee 
would be requisitioned by the Germans, Emile Francqui 
and Baron Lambert of the Central Relief Committee, 
and Hugh Gibson, secretary of the American Lega- 
tion, went to London to explain to the British Gov- 
ernment the desperate situation of the city of Brussels 
and to request permission to import food. At the same 
time they appealed personally to American Ambassador 
Walter Hines Page and were by him referred to an 
American mining engineer named Herbert Clark Hoover 
who had just rendered notable services to the Embassy 
and to his fellow-countrymen by heading a committee to 
advance funds to send home to America those of our na- 
tionals who had been caught in Europe at the outbreak 
of war. As a result of conferences between Mr. Hoover 
and Mr. Francqui a plan was drawn up and submitted 
to the British Government, which granted permission to 
Mr. Hoover and to an American Committee which he 
should organize under the patronage of the Ministers of 
the United States and of Spain in London, Berlin, The 
Hague, and Brussels, the right to purchase and transport 
through the British blockade to Rotterdam, Holland, 
cargoes of foodstuffs, destined to be trans-shipped 'into 


Belgium, consigned to the American Minister in Brus- 
sels, and to be distributed through the Central Relief 
Committee now expanded to the Belgian National Re- 
lief Committee (le Comite National de Secours et d' Ali- 
mentation) under the direction of American citizens, 
who should certify, as representatives of Mr. Brand 
Whitlock, that the food was equitably apportioned and 
consumed only by the Belgian civil population. 

This plan was not for the assistance of the city of 
Brussels alone but was for the whole of Belgium. 

The London Times of October twenty-fourth, 1914, 

A Commission has been set up in London under the title 
of " The American Commission for Relief in Belgium." 
The Brussels Committee reports feeding 300,000 daily. 

On November fourth it states: 

The Commission for Relief in Belgium yesterday issued 
their first weekly report, 3 London Wall Buildings. A 
cargo was received yesterday at Brussels just in time. Esti- 
mated monthly requirements : 

60,000 tons grain 
15,000 tons maize 
3,000 tons rice and peas 

Approved by the Spanish and American Ministers, Brussels. 1 
1 See Appendix III, page 333. 



The Spanish Minister the Marquis of Villalobar y 
O'Neill I first met in Brussels in December. He was 
as Irish as the maternal half of his name, thoroughly 
simpatico, a trained diplomat, keen-eyed, heavy-set, of 
charming manners and force of character, whose influ- 
ence with the Belgians was great. He and Mr. Brand 
Whitlock were the only diplomatic representatives who 
remained in Brussels after the occupation. Like Mr. 
Whitlock, the Marquis of Villalobar had been a patron 
of the Central Relief Committee of Brussels, and when 
that organism was expanded to take in the whole of 
Belgium he became, with Mr. Whitlock, Minister-patron 
of the Belgian National Relief Committee. 

Among the remnants of the former diplomatic circle 
was a delightful Mexican charge d'affaires, destined also 
to help in Belgian relief work, with the inappropriate 
name of German Bulle. Waxing and waning revolutions 
in Mexico had made Senor Bulle careless of his official 
status, which was, as defined by Hugh Gibson, secretary 
of the American Legation, " representative of a coun- 
try without a government to a government without a 

The American Legation was a busy place, for the in- 
terests of half a dozen belligerent nations were in 
American hands, and the busiest person in it was the 
secretary. Hugh S. Gibson was an alert, slender young 


Hoosier of about thirty, with the hawk-like Yankee look, 
keen dark eyes, crisp hair always in place, fine firm 
mouth, slender hands, and few gestures. His wit and 
fearlessness were the talk of Brussels. He drove into 
Louvain under fire to report to the Legation on condi- 
tions. He rode into Antwerp while the siege was in 
progress, carrying a Belgian Minister of State to present 
to King Albert a confidential message from Governor- 
General von der Goltz. The King repulsed the mes- 
senger, and the Minister of State reported afterward 
that he was coerced into going. But for Gibson the 
journey was a routine matter of business, even if the 
hood of his motor-car was shot off en route. He had 
been frequently under fire and he had the happy faculty 
of telling about his exploits without the taint of boastful- 

Like most of the Americans in Belgium, Gibson was 
dogged by spies. One of these hangers-on made himself 
so conspicuous that Gibson began to take notice of him 
and to treat him familiarly, much to the spy's disgust. 
One very rainy day the pet spy was discovered standing 
under the dripping eaves of a neighboring house. Gib- 
son caught up a raincoat and hurried over to the man. 

" Look here, old fellow," he said in German. " I'm 
going to be in the Legation for three hours. You put 
on this coat and go home. Come back in three hours 
and I'll let you watch me for the rest of the day." 

Ante-bellum Baedekers have not starred the American 


Legation at number 74 rue de Treves, Brussels. It is 
no worse and no better than most American legations, 
but it is not a beauty spot in a Belgian pilgrimage. 
Straight walls enclose the Whitlock residence, a dingy 
plaque with the Legation seal leans forward over the 
door, a flag droops weakly from its staff in the incessant 
rains, and the dull streets are empty. The house itself 
is a severe rectangle with a pleasant reception room and 
dining-room upstairs, but with gloomy offices below, to 
which one is led by way of a white, sepulchral hall, where 
a plaster bust of Washington stares undisturbed at 

One usually found Mr. Whitlock sitting before a gas 
grate in a room where winter and summer the windows 
were closed. He rarely walked out. Almost the only 
times he left the Legation were for automobile rides in a 
closed limousine. 

He always looked tired and worn. The academic 
severity of his face is accentuated by his thinness, and 
his eyes have the tense look of a man constantly strain- 
ing to see something too close to him. He is the tall, 
scholarly, cloistral type of American gentleman, so often 
sacrificed to practicalities in a work-a-day world ; a man 
happier in libraries than in executive offices; happiest of 
all, perhaps, in the atmosphere of universities. The dry, 
mechanical precision of his speech rarely changes pitch 
or tempo, and he speaks as he writes: academically, in 
the best sense of the word. 


A day or two after the war broke out, a friend of Mr. 
Whitlock's in America received a letter written from the 
seclusion of a chateau near Brussels, where the Minister 
was writing a novel. There was no hint, no thought of 
war in the letter. The writer whimsically deplored the 
idle life of an American representative in Europe. " I 
am afraid, after all, that I am made for a more active 
existence," was the substance of what he wrote. " There 
is nothing to do here." 

There was something of the same aloofness from 
contemporary affairs in our first conversation, as 
if literature and not life had again gained the upper 

" How do they make maple sugar back home ? " Mr. 
Whitlock asked. 

I described the process as best I could, adding that 
after a plethora of sugar a bite or two of sour pickle 
will clear the appetite for more ! " But why do you ask 
me that?" 

" I had just reached a ' sugaring off ' episode in my 
novel when the war began, and I have often wondered 
since how we used to make maple sugar in Ohio." . . . 

The Fates have not been overkind to Mr. Whitlock. 
Beginning as a newspaper reporter in Chicago he was 
born in Urbana, Ohio, on March 4, 1869 he definitely 
determined to be a man of letters. He studied law, was 
admitted to the Illinois bar in 1894 and to the bar of the 

Photograph by Paul Thompson 



State of Ohio in 1897. He was a friend of Governor 
Altgeld of Illinois, Tom Johnson of Cleveland, and 
" Golden Rule " Jones of Toledo, Ohio, whom he suc- 
ceeded as mayor in 1905. He was re-elected in 1907, 
and again in 1909 and 1911. And all the time he was 
writing. " The Thirteenth District," " The Turn of the 
Balance," " The Fall Guy," " Forty Years of It," these 
of his books are widely read ; but Mr. Whitlock has never 
had time to do the writing which he wants most to do. 
With the outbreak of the war his placid life as a 
diplomat, " lying abroad for the good of his country," 
as Sir Henry Wotton wittily defined the mission of 
diplomacy, was invaded by a storm of horrors such as 
the most self-contained could not resist. Mr. Whitlock 
was the representative of the only great neutral power 
left in the world and he was at the very center of the 
cyclone. Waves of refugees, many of them utterly desti- 
tute, all of them in a state of abject panic and demorali- 
zation, thronged into Brussels as the Germans advanced. 
Day by day their numbers and their distress increased. 
Relief measures were imperative unless the fugitives 
were to starve by the roadside or be driven in despera- 
tion to plunder right and left. Mr. Whitlock had lived 
all his life in the amiable atmosphere of Middle Western 
liberalism; he was humane and kindly and idealistic. 
He belonged to the " Free Speech League " and prison 
reform associations ; his impulses and ideals were gener- 
ous, and now before his eyes a nation was being throt- 


tied. It was natural and I think it was typically Ameri- 
can for Mr. Whitlock to do what he did. He threw 
himself at once into the work of relief. The American 
Legation became the foundation head for all sorts of 
help and advice. Bread lines were formed and supplied, 
soup kitchens were opened, and depots where the naked 
could be clothed; and after the German armies entered 
Brussels on August twentieth, 1914, the American Le- 
gation afforded the one stable point around which the 
demoralized population could rally. 

That is Mr. Whitlock' s unforgettable contribution to 
Belgium and especially to the city of Brussels. He has 
represented to a people imprisoned and oppressed the 
ideals of freedom and helpfulness which we like to think 
are characteristically American. 

And that is what the Belgians will never forget. That 
is why, on Washington's Birthday, they filed before the 
heavy doors at 74 rue de Treves men, women, and chil- 
dren, of all classes ; a few in furs, more with shawls over 
their heads and sabots on their feet; professors, noble- 
men, artisans, shopkeepers, artists, functionaries of the 
State, slum babies, and peasants dropping their cartes 
de visile engraved, printed, or written on slips of stiff 
cardboard torn from paper boxes in tribute to Mr. 
Whitlock and the nation which he represents. 

To Belgians and to Americans the Legation was a 
haven of refuge. A vast weight of suspicion hung upon 


us all. We almost feared to think ; we could never speak 
out. The American Legation was the only spot in Bel- 
gium where one might talk and listen without fear 
of spies; where even in the midst of war one might 
share for a while the sheltered, test-tube existence of 
diplomatic representatives abroad. And for that we were 
deeply grateful. 

To the popularity of the Legation Mrs. Whitlock con- 
tributed much. Her tact and sympathy, her charm and 
good sense were at every one's command. She also took 
a prominent part in relief work in Brussels. She was 
president-patroness of the Children's Aid (Aide et Pro- 
tection aux (Euvres de I'Enfance) and of the Commit- 
tee for the Relief of Lace Workers (le Comite de la 
Dent elle). At jier little Friday receptions the women 
always knitted for the poor. 


" Who is Hoover ? " I asked of every American I met 
in Brussels. 

" Chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium 
Going to be one of the biggest figures of the war." 

" But who is he now ? " 

" Mining engineer Calif ornian Lives in London 
Directs a lot of mines all over the world Employs 
one hundred and twenty-five thousand men Annual out- 
put of his mines is worth as much as the total annual 
output of metals of California. He's a consulting en- 


gineer and financier and administrator Interested in 
everything Oil fields, half a dozen engineering, con- 
struction, and development companies. Everybody in 
London knows Hoover. If any one on earth can feed 
Belgium, he can." 

Later I knew more of him : that he comes of Quaker 
stock; was born at West Branch, Iowa, in 1874; gradu- 
ated from Leland Stanford University, California, tak- 
ing his degree of B. A. in mining engineering in 1895 ; 
spent a year with the United States Geological Survey 
in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, was assistant manager 
of the Carlisle mines in New Mexico and the Morning 
Star mines in California, and at the age of twenty-four 
went to West Australia as chief of the mining staff of 
Bewick, Moreing, and Company. He married Miss Lou 
Henry of Monterey, California in 1899, and with his 
bride went to China as chief engineer of the Chinese Im- 
perial Bureau of Mines. Next year he took part in the 
defense of Tientsin during the Boxer disturbances. 
After that he was engaged in the construction of Ching 
Wang Tow harbor, and was general manager of the 
Chinese Engineering and Mining Company; and a year 
later, in 1902, became a partner in the firm of Bewick, 
Moreing, and Company, mine operators, of London. He 
has been consulting engineer for more than fifty mining 

It reads like the record of a crowded life, but it is 


only a prelude to his real work. By the first of January, 
1915, all the world knew of Hoover, knew that to him 
more than to any one else is due the creation and 
maintenance of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, 
the day to day toil on behalf of seven million four hun- 
dred thousand non-combatants in Belgium and two mil- 
lion one hundred and forty thousand in northern 
France caught in the nets of war, the enlisting of the 
sympathy of the world on their behalf, the organization 
and successful operation within two or three weeks by 
a body of volunteers of relief measures involving an an- 
nual turnover of almost one hundred million dollars. 
That, as all the world knows today, is the achievement 
of Herbert C. Hoover, American. 

In appearance he is astonishingly youthful, smooth- 
shaven, dark haired, with cool, watchful eyes, clear brow, 
straight nose, and firm, even mouth. His chin is round 
and hard. 

One might not mark him in a crowd. There is noth- 
ing theatrical or picturesque in his looks or bearing, for 
from his Quaker forebears he has inherited a dislike for 
sham and show of any sort. At work he seems passive 
and receptive. He stands still or sits still when he talks, 
perhaps jingling coins in his pocket or playing with a 
pencil. His repertory of gestures is small. He can be 
so silent that it hurts. 

Being an American he sometimes acts first and ex- 


plains afterwards. But his explanations, like his actions, 
are direct and self-sufficient. 

In the Outlook for September eighth, 1915, Lewis R. 
Freeman describes Hoover's contempt for precedent, his 
fondness for the fait accompli; for action first and ex- 
planation later. He tells how, before the Commission 
was fairly on its feet, there came a day when it was a 
case of snarling things in red tape and letting Belgium 
starve, or getting food shipped and letting governments 
howl. Hoover naturally chose the latter. 

" When the last bag had been stowed and the hatches 
were battened down," writes Mr. Freeman, " Hoover 
went in person to the one Cabinet Minister able to ar- 
range for the only things he could not provide himself 
clearance papers. 'If I do not get four cargoes of 
food to Belgium by the end of the week,' he said bluntly, 
' thousands are going to die from starvation, and many 
more may be shot in food riots.' 

" ' Out of the question/ said the distinguished Minister. 
' There is no time, in the first place, and if there was 
there are no good wagons to be spared by the railways, 
no dock hands, and no steamers; moreover, the Channel 
is closed for a week to merchant vessels while troops are 
being transported to the Continent/ 

" ' I have managed to get all of these things/ Hoover 
replied quietly ; ' and am now through with them all ex- 
cept the steamers. This wire tells me that these are now 

Courtesy of The Bellman and The Northwestern Miller 



loaded and ready to sail, and I have come to have you 
arrange for their clearance/ 

" The great man gasped. * There have been there are 
even now men in the Tower for less than you have 
done/ he ejaculated. ' If it was for anything but Bel- 
gian Relief if it was anybody but you, young man I 
should hate to think of what might happen. As it is 
er I suppose there is nothing to do but congratulate 
you on a jolly clever coup. I'll see about the clearance 
at once/ " 

Mr. Freeman quotes a member of the Commission as 
saying, " You have heard, doubtless, that Lloyd George 
has the reputation of being the most persuasive man in 
England. Well, a few months ago, when we were try- 
ing to simplify our work by arranging for an extension 
of exchange facilities on Brussels, the then Chancellor 
of the Exchequer sent for Hoover. I will tell the story 
as Lloyd George himself told it to some friends at the 
Liberal Club a few days later. 

" ' " Mr. Hoover," I said, " I find I am quite unable to 
grant your request iri the matter of Belgian exchange, 
and I have asked you to come here that I might explain 
why." Without waiting for me to go on, my boyish- 
looking caller began speaking. . . . For fifteen 
minutes he spoke without a break just about the 
clearest expository utterance I have ever heard on any 
subject. He used not a word too much, nor yet a word 
too few. By the time he had finished I had come to 


realize, not only the importance of his contentions, but, 
what was more to the point, the practicability of grant- 
ing his request. So I did the only thing possible under 
the circumstances told him I had never understood the 
question before, thanked him for helping me to under- 
stand it, and saw to it that things were arranged as he 
wanted them/ " 

On April tenth, 1915, a submarine torpedoed one of 
the food ships chartered by the Commission; a week 
later a German hydro-aeroplane tried to drop bombs on 
the deck of another Commission ship, so Hoover paid 
a flying visit to Berlin. He was at once assured that no 
more incidents of the sort would occur. 

"Thanks," said Hoover. "Your Excellency, have 
you heard the story of the man who was nipped by a 
bad-tempered dog? He went to the owner to have the 
dog muzzled. 

" ' But the dog won't bite you/ insisted the owner. 

" ' You know he won't bite me, and I know he won't 
bite me/ said the injured party doubtfully, ' but the ques- 
tion is, does the dog know ? ' ' . . . 

" Herr Hoover," said the high official, " pardon me 
if I leave you for a moment. I am going at once to 
' let the dog know/ " 

Hoover has a habit of going straight to the highest 
authority with anything he has on hand. He never 


wastes time on the titled office boys who administer so 
much of the machinery of this world of ours. When he 
meets a new problem he takes it to an expert. When he 
wants an obstacle removed from his path he goes to the 
man who can remove it, or he removes it himself. He 
gives no small coin of flattery or favors to figurehead 

Of course he makes enemies. The wonder is that they 
are so few. He uses men, throws them aside and for- 
gets them, as every world architect must, for he has, 
along with his amazing diplomatic skill, as frank a way 
in dealing with men as with conditions. I have known 
a word or a phrase of his to reveal a man to himself as 
naked and as startled as a patient under psychoanalysis. 
Hoover is a diplomat in the high, not in the trivial sense 
of the word; a constructive artist in human destiny; a 
leader who is too busy to waste time flattering the petty 
pride of those he leads. 

He appeals to the imagination and the dreams of men. 
But he too is a slave to dreams. Today the Commission 
for Relief in Belgium the " C. R. B." as the Belgians 
have nicknamed it is his great dream. He wants the 
names of all who serve in it to be swallowed up in the 
organization, to be forgotten in service to Belgium. He 
would like his own name to be forgotten in the same 
way; but that is not to be. I am not a prophet or the 
son of a prophet, but I know that the public service of 
Herbert C. Hoover has just begun. He belongs not only 


to Belgium but to America, and as soon as the war is 
over and Belgium is free, his own country will have need 
of him. 


In October, as Chairman of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, Mr. Hoover established his headquarters at 3 
London Wall Buildings, London, England. The diplo- 
matic direction of the entire work of Belgian relief, the 
solicitation or purchase of supplies and their shipment, 
were governed by this central office. The active members 
of the Commission, all of them volunteers and most of 
them American citizens, consisted chiefly of personal 
friends and business associates of Mr. Hoover; almost all 
of them engineers, or men of careful technical training. 

The Commission in London was modestly housed and 
modestly manned. The general direction was in the 
hands of Mr. Hoover; Colonel Millard Hunsiker was 
director for Great Britain ; John Beaver White was pur- 
chasing agent and manager of shipping; and Edgar 
Rickard, editor of a mining journal, was manager of 

The Brussels office, which was headquarters for all of 
Belgium, at first was divided between the American Le- 
gation and number 48 rue de Naples the latter a typical 
Brussels office building with unnecessary marble, pan- 
eled oak cubby-holes for private offices, oak ceilings, oak- 

1 See Appendix IV, page 334. 


wainscot, and big mirrors. There was an oak mantel 
with carven, well-fed cupids on it, American telephone 
instruments on green baize tables, electric lights, and deep 
comfortable chairs. Later the headquarters were trans- 
ferred to a rambling suite at number 66 rue des Colonies. 
The first director was Daniel Heinemann of Brussels, 
and following him, Captain J. F. Lucey, Albert N. Con- 
nett, Oscar T. Crosby, Professor Vernon L. Kellogg, and 
W. B. Poland. 

Rotterdam, the port of entry for all Belgian sup- 
plies, was the principal shipping point, so that a trans- 
shipping office for Commission goods was opened at 98 
Haringvliet, on a tree-bordered Dutch lane lying beside 
a busy canal where the schools of herring used to run, 
and where nowadays market carts and fisherwomen, 
motor-cars, delivery wagons, and peasant farmers in 
whitewashed wooden shoes clatter leisurely by. A 
century ago 98 Haringvliet was the residence of a 
Dutch merchant prince. The ceilings bear allegorical 
figures. Some of the walls are paneled. In the waiting- 
room, which used to be the dining-room of the mansion, 
is a massive fireplace, with long vertical Dutch mirrors 
and wall paintings in the style of 1750, showing quiet 
landscapes, Ruskin's " fat cattle and ditch-water," or 
violent storms at sea. 

Stolid Dutch and Flemish barge captains and dock 
laborers stood in line below stairs. Captain J. F. Lucey, 
the first Rotterdam director, sat in a roomy office on 


the second floor overlooking the Meuse the river which 
flows from Verdun, Dinant, Namur, and Liege, thence 
through Holland to Rotterdam. From his windows he 
could see the Commission barges as they left for Bel- 
gium, their pilot houses decorated with huge canvas flags 
bearing the protective inscription, " Belgian Relief Com- 
mission." He was a nervous, big, beardless American, a 
volunteer, like all the rest, who left his business of manu- 
facturing oil-well supplies to organize and direct a great 
trans-shipping office in an alien land for an alien people. 
Out of nothing he created a large staff of clerks 
American, Dutch, and Belgian secured special permits 
from the Dutch Government, even wrung from them per- 
mission to break the laws whenever necessity dictated; 
received the immense cargoes necessary to stave off Bel- 
gian starvation; loaded them into canal boats; got from 
the German Consul-General in Rotterdam passports for 
cargoes and crews ; and shipped the foodstuffs consigned 
personally to Mr. Brand Whitlock. 1 

A fleet of three hundred canal boats was engaged ex- 
clusively for the Commission's work. By means of float- 
ing elevators a nine thousand ton ship loaded with bulk 
wheat could be unloaded in thirty-six hours and sent on 
its way through the rivers and canals into Belgium. All 
Dutch records for speedy freight handling were broken, 
and still Belgium cried for food. 2 

1 See Appendix V, page 335- 
8 See Appendix VI, page 335. 


By mid-November gift ships from the United States 
were en route for Rotterdam, but the Canadian Province 
of Nova Scotia was first in the translantic race. The 
steamer " Tremorvah," out of Halifax, brought one 
hundred and seventy-six tons of flour, forty-nine tons of 
meat and bacon, and two thousand three hundred and 
thirty-eight tons miscellaneous, everything edible which 
could be got on short notice by the generous Nova 
Scotians and thrust into a ship. The " Tremorvah " 
reached Rotterdam on November fifteenth. 1 

As an American citizen I was deeply interested in the 
budding work' of the Commission for Relief in Belgium. 
Through Dr. Henry van Dyke, American Minister in 
The Hague and an honorary chairman of the Commis- 
sion, and through Captain Lucey, the Rotterdam director, 
I learned that Americans were urgently needed in Bel- 
gium to oversee the distribution of food in each of the 
provinces and to certify that all of it went to the Bel- 
gians. Men were wanted who knew both French and 
German and who had business training, and they were 
wanted at once. It was suggested that I go into Belgium 
and help in whatever way I could. 

The suggestion was made to me at four o'clock in the 
afternoon of November twenty-third. I left for Brus- 
sels next morning at eight o'clock, by way of Bergen op 
Zoom and Antwerp. 

1 See Appendix VII, page 336. 


On December eleventh I was again in Antwerp, this 
time holding Mr. Brand Whitlock's power-of -attorney as 
chief delegate of the Commission for Relief in Belgium 
in charge of the fortress and province a territory as 
large as the State of Rhode Island, and with a popula- 
tion of more than a million. 


It was the season of Saint Nicholas, with Christmas 
only a fortnight away; a time when all the world has 
a right to be merry. But it seemed as if there could be no 
real Christmas in 1914; food and clothing would be bless- 
ing enough for the Belgians. At the office of the Red 
Cross, at number 30 Place de Meir, hung a pathetic 
notice : 

" This year Saint Nicholas cannot make a proper dis- 
tribution of presents to the poor children of Belgium. 
Therefore it will be necessary to have useful things to give 
to the little ones: a pair of slippers, a warm dress, or 
something of the sort for distribution through the hos- 
pitals, children's refuges, and creches!' 

A few shops exhibited the customary Christmas cakes, 
gingerbreads, and candies, although the stock was 
strictly limited on account of the lack of milk and eggs, 
and in a department-store on the Place de Meir stood a 
ruddy lay figure of Saint Nicholas in a bishop's golden 
mitre and chasuble, white lace cotta and black cassock, 
mittens, and gold crosier, a touch at least of the Christ- 


mas season, although the good bishop did not resemble 
our jolly, homely Santa Claus. . . . 

The silence of the dead metropolis was shrilly broken 
by old women, screaming " Handelsblad! La Presse!" 
to people too poor to buy newspapers. The hum and 
throb of industry were gone ; the quays were empty ; fac- 
tories were shut; acres of rusting wagons and rotting 
ships lined the northern basins; the warehouses were 
sealed and guarded by German soldiers; labor was dis- 
persed, and the very air was idle and noisome. 

There was nothing to do but to promenade, so the 
streets were thronged with women in mourning and idle 
men who passed aimlessly up and down, or studied the 
pillar-posts where the German Government posted its 
regulations in the German, Flemish, and French 
languages. Barricades of sandbags and a row of ugly 
rapid-fire guns pointed down the avenue de Keyzer from 
the Central Railway Station. Few beggars were abroad : 
the crowds were not mendicants. But they walked aim- 
lessly and indifferently, and their faces were inexpressibly 
sad. Refugees were drifting back from Holland : thirty 
thousand were lodged in the city. Many of them were 
without homes, most were without money, all were with- 
out work. 

Long Hnes of people stood every day at the Pass 
Bureau to petition for passes to Brussels or the suburbs 
of Antwerp, for three lines of German sentries girdled 


the fortress and permitted no one to go or come without 
the magic script furnished by the Pass Bureau, " for a 
consideration. " Passes were costly articles. Peasants 
coming to town on market days to sell their scanty 
stock of vegetables and milk paid sometimes as high as 
three marks for the privilege. Draft animals were few, 
because of the requisitions, so one frequently saw dogs, 
and sometimes men and women, pulling the heaviest 
carts over the cobble-stones. 

Out of the crowding impressions of my first week's 
stay in Antwerp as delegate for the Commission for Re- 
lief in Belgium, comes a composite picture of helplessness 
and hopelessness, lightened by the incorrigible optimism 
of one man. That man was Louis Franck, president of 
the Provincial Relief Committee. On the day of my ar- 
rival in Antwerp I went at once to the beautiful Town 
Hall, a structure famous before the " Spanish Terror," 
a Flemish gem in old gold and ivory, set in a Flem- 
ish square, all ringed about with guild halls and medieval 
shops. At the door stood German sentries and a stench 
of cabbage soup swam out of the open doors, for most 
of the guard was at mess, laughing and eating below 

In the office of the Burgomaster of Antwerp, Jan de 
Vos, I found Mynheer Louis Franck, president of the 
Inter-communal Commission and the provincial branch 
of the National Relief Committee (le Comite Provincial 


de Secours et d' Alimentation) . Through a clear pane 
in the stained-glass windows behind him, I caught a 
glimpse of the cathedral tower, with the German flag 
flaunting at its top; but the appearance and surroundings 
of Mr. Franck filled the eye completely. He sat in a 
paneled room of Flemish oak and gold, behind a mas- 
sive oaken desk, facing a magnificent marble chimney- 
piece from the old abbey of Tongerloo; his bold head 
framed with a cascade of curly, jet-black hair and 
black Assyrian beard. He was forty-seven years old, 
in the prime of his strength, with an optimistic faith in 
the future of Belgium which was contagious. Later I 
was to learn more of him ; to recognize in him one of the 
keenest intelligences in Belgium, a famous maritime 
lawyer, the legal-minded type of adroit politician, and a 
born leader of men. I learned to know him as a Fleming 
from a Flemish Province, a leader in the Flemish Move- 
ment, but as a cosmopolitan as well, and an admirable 
orator in five languages beside his native Flemish. 1 

We walked together into the Marriage Hall to open 
the first sitting of the Provincial Relief Committee. 
Down upon us from the walls smiled paintings of mar- 
riage ceremonies, Gaulish, Roman, Old Flemish, of the 
time of Rubens, and of the period of the French Revolu- 
tion. It was the hall where the civil ceremony preceding 
all Antwerp marriages must take place, and where, if the 
persons be prominent, the Burgomaster himself gives the 

1 See Appendix VIII, page 337. 


bride the famous white and red rose which is the emblem 
of Antwerp. But our assembly was neither gay nor fes- 
tive. It was a confused vision of bearded gentlemen, 
grave as prophets, in long black coats and stiff collars, 
whom later I was to know as loyal co-workers and 
patriots. They were aldermen and notable citizens of 
the city, country burgomasters and provincial deputies; 
representatives of all three political parties Catholic, 
Liberal, Socialist; of all three classes of society noble, 
bourgeois, and proletarian; and of a variety of profes- 
sions and callings. They served without pay. 

Up to that time no American foodstuffs had been re- 
ceived or distributed in Antwerp. 1 


I left the meeting of the Committee and walked to 74 
rue du Peage. On my way I stopped at the cathedral. 
Workmen were rapidly removing all trace of the damage 
caused by the bombardment; the stone rail had been re- 
paired with cement, leaving a strange leprous patch, and 

1 Our first circular letter to the one hundred and sixty-five com- 
munes belonging to the province of Antwerp, bore date of December 
eleventh, the day of my arrival. It asked : i. the total population of 
the commune; 2. financial resources; 3. immediate financial needs; 
4. inventory of existing foodstuffs of every sort ; 5. estimated daily 
necessities in foodstuffs, the basis for flour being not more than 
250 grams per day per person ; 6. estimated daily necessities in fod- 
der for the cattle ; 7. if a building were ready to serve as communal 
food depot; 8. if medicine were needed in the commune. The 
answers to these inquiries were to be attested by the burgomasters 
and sealed with the communal seal. 



I was amused to see the stall formerly lettered " English 
Confessor," now covered with a card in German script 
bearing the words, " Field Preacher Confessor Doctor 

Through seared and smashed byways I went to the 
familiar street, past the ruins of houses, their windows 
barred with wood or blocked with canvas, and on the 
door at number 74 I found Donald Thompson's name 
and address branded for posterity with indelible 

There were two candles in the hallway, and a box of 
matches, just as we had left them. It was still and dark 
as a tomb. Down in the kitchen was the familiar clutter 
of bottles and pans; in the cyclone cellar where we had 
weathered the bombardment were the names of the four 
of us Thompson, Weigle, de Meester, and me just as 
they had been written for the eyes of our heirs on the 
night the shelling began. Upstairs in what had been my 
bedroom I found the pile of French books which had 
amused me so, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox's " Poems of 
Passion" lying safe on top of the heap. ... On 
the third floor was a mountain of plaster and I picked 
up half a pint of lead pellets in the midst of it. On 
the fourth floor in the debris of the walls were a 
broken couch, a smashed wardrobe, cracked mirrors, and 
torn chairs, beds and bed linen, all tumbled together by 
the explosion. The hole where the shell had entered was 
covered with canvas neatly nailed. 


At the American Consulate where Donald Thompson 
photographed the battalions of Germans tramping along 
the rue Leys on October tenth, I met the kindly old Con- 
sul-General, Henry W. Diederich, and the Vice-Consul, 
Tuck Sherman. Thanks to them, all over Antwerp 
were signs, " under the protection of the American Con- 
sulate," which may have moderated German thorough- 
ness and which certainly heartened the Belgians. Messrs. 
Diederich and Sherman granted me office space in the 
Consulate and after a day or two arranged with an in- 
surance company in the suite below the Consular offices 
to give me space of my own. In the insurance offices a 
caretaker and two or three clerks dismally played at 
business, keeping the long hours of the ordinary Belgian 
business-day, dusting, sweeping, casting up accounts, and 
puzzling over cryptic anagrams which prophesied the 
Kaiser's death or the capture of Berlin. They were de- 
lighted to have me near them, for in their eyes I guar- 
anteed protection from the Germans. 

My furniture consisted of a modest table, a typewriter, 
and five chairs. 

My duties as American delegate were necessarily ill- 
defined but capable of almost unlimited extension. Hold- 
ing the power-of -attorney of the American Minister, 
I was in theory the owner of all supplies im- 
ported into the province of Antwerp by the Commis- 
sion for Relief in Belgium from the time they reached 


me on the canal boats from Rotterdam up to the 
time of their consumption by the Belgians. The Com- 
mission's imports were consigned personally to Mr. 
Whitlock, so that as provincial delegate I acted as con- 
signee for the province in which I served. Once at the 
wharves the contents of the boats were under my direc- 
tion, and in theory this applied to the later steps, to 
their transference to the docks or the Commission ware- 
houses in Antwerp, Turnhout, Malines, and Tamise; to 
their transport thence by canals or light railways to the 
regional warehouses ; then to the one hundred and sixty- 
five communes; and so to the million and more indi- 
vidual consumers. The Americans in Belgium were in 
honor bound to know what became of every item of sup- 
plies, for only on terms like these would Great Britain 
modify her blockade in favor of Belgium. 

It was necessary, then, for the American delegate to 
be familiar in detail not only with the transportation 
and distribution of imports, but also with the condition 
and needs of every commune in his province, and to re- 
port on these matters regularly to the headquarters of 
the Commission for Relief in Belgium and to the Ameri- 
can Minister. 

The course of the war had abolished the independent, 
democratic life of the Belgian people. Out of the chaos 
had emerged the neutral Commission for Relief and the 
Belgian National Relief Committee pledged to extraor- 
dinary caution in handling supplies, so that at times the 


American delegate could not help appearing as a sort of 
Oriental satrap. There were the usual routine problems 
of insurance, shipping, bills of lading, warehousing, and 
trans-shipping, the preparation of extensive reports, 
debits and credits, where the delegate's share tended to 
become more and more supervisory; but complaints and 
misunderstandings on the part of the German authorities, 
inadequate communal reports, or friction of one sort and 
another, complicated by the political disabilities under 
which our Belgian coadjutors labored, made it necessary 
for the delegate to be jack-of -all-trades and all things 
to all men. In a situation so critical as ours a small 
matter might easily develop into a crisis threatening the 
whole. 1 

The plan for the relief work required a highly cen- 
tralized organization. Instead of the comparatively sim- 
ple problem of feeding, the work developed, almost in 
spite of itself, into a comprehensive plan of national 
preservation ; all under the drastic conditions imposed by 
modern warfare. 2 


The first task was to secure reports from each com- 
mune on the amount of destitution, the condition of em- 
ployment, the prevalence of sickness, the possibility of 
providing work for the workless, and the need of food; 

1 See Appendix IX, page 338. 
* See Appendix X, page 339. 


then from these to reduce to a card-index formula the 
conditions in the province and ultimately the condition 
of every individual who required relief. 

In a borrowed automobile and with passes which I 
requested from the German authorities, Messrs. Frangois 
Franck, A. Palmans, and I visited the village of Boisschot 
on December sixteenth. The conditions we found there 
were fairly typical. The town was a bare oasis of wat- 
tled or brick cottages in the less prosperous part of the 
province, on the edge of what Belgians call the " Cam- 
pine " a country district, Oligocene in geological forma- 
tion, supporting scrub evergreens and purple heather more 
readily than any other growing thing, and cut by a few 
slim watercourses lined with pollard willows. 

Wayside shrines of Our Lady of Sorrows were 
decorated with fluttering strips of white paper, but other- 
wise one saw few signs of life. Almost every village 
through which we passed had been hammered with shells. 
Chickens and live-stock were rarities. Fear of the Ger- 
mans was universal. 

The Town House of Boisschot was a small, ugly 
building, not much superior to the old-fashioned Little 
Red School House of American pioneering days. The 
Burgomaster's office was a cold, bare rectangle, with 
sanded floors, a few thin chairs, and a long table piled 
with papers. A cheap lithograph of King Albert and 
Queen Elizabeth hung on the whitewashed walls of the 
room, and a framed proclamation printed in German, 


Flemish, and French, signed by the commandant of the 

Our borrowed Minerva limousine puffed stertorously 
at the door in the midst of a crowd of wooden-shoed 
villagers the first automobile they had seen in four 
months; while inside I found myself vigorously shaken 
by the hand and on friendly terms with a big blond 
Burgomaster named Baron de Gruben and a thin, 
bearded spectre who was the communal secretary. 

Our questionnaire was written in Flemish, but out of 
deference for my ignorance the questions were asked 
and answered in French. 

" Monsieur le Bourgmestre le Baron de Gruben, it is a 
gentleman very excellent," whispered Messrs. Franck 
and Palmans before we began. " Most of our burgo- 
masters ask for more than they have a right to. He is 
not so. He is a fine man, that Baron de Gruben. You 
must always be on your guard with the Belgian burgo- 
master, Monsieur le Delegue. The Belgian is a man who 
always complains qui toujours se plaint. And he is 
stubborn, too. Always tell him what he must not do, 
then he will do what you wish. He is a man who goes in 
the door marked ' Exit ' and comes out the door marked 
' Entrance '!" . . . 

Burgomaster ? " Baron de Gruben, present," we wrote 
the answer. 

Police or guard ? " Monsieur Jean van Caster is about 


to return. He has been replaced provisionally by a private 

Doctors ? " Messieurs Dens and Goossens, present." 

Instructors ? " Two under-instructors are prisoners of 
war; one at Munster, the other at Sennewald, in Ger- 

Clergy ? " Monsieur le Cure and Monsieur le Vicaire 
were made prisoners with many cures of neighboring 
towns. Twenty priests are interned at Munster." 

Notables? "The Germans arrested two hundred 
civilians and transported them to Germany. Since then 
one hundred have been released ; those over forty-five or 
under sixteen years old. The others are interned at 
Paderborn in Westphalia. Among the prisoners in Ger- 
many are thirty fathers of families." 

Population ? " Three thousand three hundred, of 
whom nine hundred have to be supported by charity. 

"The town was never bombarded and therefore no 
houses have been destroyed, but twice the whole popula- 
tion fled and twice the town was pillaged, private 
houses and public buildings." 

Is there work? " There is no work of any sort." 

Is there a relief committee ? "A small volunteer com- 
mittee is struggling to give soup and bread." 

What money is on hand ? " The treasury has two 
thousand francs, to which three thousand francs is about 
to be added which the Burgomaster has secured as a loan 
from the Comite d f Assistance of Antwerp." 


Maladies? "None." 

What things are lacking? "The commune suffers 
especially for lack of flour, peas, beans, rice, bacon, her- 
ring, petroleum, and coal." 

Monthly budget? "For the clergy, fifty francs; po- 
lice, ninety francs; personnel, which includes the school, 
still open in spite of the terrible condition of the times, 
one thousand one hundred francs; electric light, one 
hundred francs; cost of communal administration, three 
hundred and ten francs; and cost of maintaining nine 
hundred persons in distress, five thousand four hundred 
and sixty francs. Total, seven thousand one hundred 
and ten francs." 

" Now, Monsieur Burgomaster, you can persuade the 
communal officers to reduce their own salaries from 
patriotic motives ? " 

" Yes, I think so." 

" They have done so in many communes already, re- 
duced their salaries one-half or one-third or two- 

" That is excellent. They are true patriots ! " 

"And the Committee will allow you one thousand 
francs a month." 

" Ah, messieurs, thank you ! thank you ! We shall do 
our best. But we must have clothes, too. We must have 
blankets and clothes anything. Send us anything. We 
have been twice pillaged. We have nothing. We still 
eat, but we have no clothes." 


On our return we passed through Heyst op den Berg, 
and my heart thrilled at the climb out of the flat Belgian 
plain, although the Berg is only a little hill. One could 
imagine oneself for a moment on the roof of the world, 
after the incessant monotony of Flemish polders and 
Campine. From the Berg on a clear day one can see 
Brussels and the outlines of Antwerp. From that hill, 
too, the Germans had battered the forts of Lierre on their 
final thrust into Antwerp. 

In Koningshoyckt, a town of three thousand inhabi- 
tants, ninety-eight houses had been completely destroyed, 
and twenty-seven partially destroyed. In so small a vil- 
lage the ruin was enormous. The church was anni- 
hilated, but a pert statue of Leopold First stood in the 
public square, unharmed by the shells. 

The beautiful old town of Lierre had suffered dread- 
fully from bombardment. It had been mercilessly ham- 
mered and then burned, and lay in a confused pile, 
smashed, scorched, and outraged. But peasants and 
burghers were cleaning and piling bricks in the yawning 
window openings, and with the incorrigible art-instinct of 
the Belgians were arranging them in crosses and dia- 
monds instead of plain, mathematical courses. A few 
frame shelters were appearing in the ruins. Typhoid 
raged. Fire, storm, and disease had been loosed on the 
unhappy people. 

The town of Duffel, too, had suffered terribly. It lay 
in a country of kitchen gardens and numbered' eight 


thousand people. It had been drowned out by the open- 
ing of the dykes and then shot to pieces. Three thou- 
sand one hundred and eighty persons were being fed at 
the public expense, and the town had literally nothing. 
Two hundred and fifty houses were completely demol- 
ished; all the others had suffered more or less. The 
commune got a few francs every day for relief work by 
taxing all, except Germans, who crossed the bridge over 
the little river Nethe. 


Working with a people who had no telegraph, no tele- 
phone, no railways, no post office, and no freedom of 
movement, my first effort was to establish regular com- 
munications with Rotterdam and Brussels. 

Commission telegrams, written in German and sent 
through the German Civil Government to our head- 
quarters, took not less than a day and a half in transit. 
We could not use the military telephone. 

To go from Antwerp to Brussels by train, a journey 
which by rapide in peace time requires about thirty-five 
minutes, now took two and a quarter hours. A pass for 
this journey cost three marks, and the railway tariff was 
twice as high as in peace time. 1 There were few trains 
and these were uncertain. 

1 An old Flemish peasant applied for a pass at Antwerp. 

" How long is this pass to be good for ? " growled the Ger- 
man clerk. 

" How long are you Germans going to stay in Belgium, 
mynheer?" countered the peasant. 


A tugboat captain advertised cheap and rapid trans- 
portation from Brussels to Antwerp by way of the 
Scheldt and the canals, but this trip required more than 
half a day and seemed a curious reversion to the facili- 
ties of the 'forties. The only other way was to go by 
cart or on foot, and the Antwerp-Brussels highway was 
filled daily with nondescript carryalls or little jaunting 
carts drawn by pitiful horses, donkeys, and dingo dogs. 

To go to Rotterdam was, of course, much more diffi- 

Edward D. Curtis, courier of the Commission, or, 
as he preferred to be called, its " traveling secretary," 
was the sole reliable means of communication between 
the Brussels headquarters, Antwerp, and the Rotterdam 

Curtis was twenty-four years old, a graduate of 
Harvard, class of 1914, but already a veteran in the 
service. Twice or even three times a week he motored 
from Brussels to Rotterdam, carrying the Legation mail- 
bags for Mr. Whitlock, the Consular mail for Consul- 
General Henry W. Diederich, and the Commission mails 
for Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, London, and New 
York ; he imported new members of the Commission and 
their baggage; and at odd times of the day or night he 
turned up in every German Kommandantur en route, 
usually under arrest, but always imperturbable. He 
throve on silence and relished rules. 

He drove in a long, low, rakish automobile, given him 


by Mr. Ernest Solvay, of the famous Solvay Process 
Company, president of the National Committee ; his sole 
companion a smart Belgian chauffeur. In mud-colored 
raincoat with thick fur padding, slouch hat, soft shirt, 
and high boots, Curtis turned up always unexpectedly at 
Antwerp, his admirably insolent face as nearly like a 
Japanese mask as he could make it, spattered with bits 
from the surface of Flemish and Dutch highways. His 
trips were not regularized until January. Then a system 
of Commission couriers was arranged for all Belgium, 
and Curtis went thrice each week from Brussels through 
Antwerp to Bergen op Zoom, where he met a special 
messenger who came and went from Rotterdam by train. 

About ten days after my installation at Antwerp, Cur- 
tis came in covered with mud and smiles and informed 
me that three new Americans delegates and three Over- 
land automobiles were on their way from Rotterdam to 

"One of those automobiles is mine; n'est-ce pas?" I 
asked, speaking the dialect of the Commission a strange 
hodge-podge of English and French with an occasional 
spice of Flemish. 

" Brussels say they intend to supply themselves, 
and afterwards the provinces." 

" Tell them two automobiles are coming. This office 
has a motto, it's ' Antwerp first ! ' 

An unexpected move by the German police made my 


highwayman's task easy. The new delegates and their 
cars were arrested in Antwerp, and kept three hours at 
the Kommandantur, so that it was not difficult for me 
to confiscate the car I wanted. . . . 

There is historical precedent for my conduct. Once on 
a time there lived a giant named Druon Antigon in a 
lowering castle where Antwerp now stands. Ship- 
masters who rowed up the Scheldt to trade with the 
ancient Belgae, or sailed down river to carry civiliza- 
tion and liqueurs to the painted Picts and the naked 
Frisians, were obliged to pay toll to the giant. If any 
refused, old Antigon cut off the customs-dodger's right 
hand and threw it into the Scheldt; and from this high- 
handed procedure on the part of the first douanier, the 
Flemish name, Antwerpen, from hand, " hand " ; and 
werfen, " to throw," is supposed to be derived. 

The legend tells further of a young hero named Brabo, 
an ardent free-trader, it seems, who objected to Antigen's 
tariff restrictions, fought and conquered him, and then 
cut off the giant's hand and flung it into the river. 

Hence my seizure of the automobile had excellent, if 
perilous, precedent. . . . 

A few days after the automobile incident, Curtis 
brought me two aides, Bennett H. Branscomb and 
Oliver C. Carmichael, American Rhodes Scholars from 
Oxford University, slangily called " Rhodesters," who 
had volunteered their services for the work of Belgian 


relief. They were the first of a flood of young Americans 
eager to help the Commission and Belgium in any way 
they could. 


The canals and light railways * are the life of Belgium. 
No other country has so perfect a transport system. In 
Belgium, as in Holland, one can reach almost every point 
by water. The valleys of the Scheldt and the Meuse 
spring like the sticks of a fan from an imaginary center 
at Rotterdam, and from these in turn in all directions 
radiate navigable waterways. The light railways, too, 
are models of their kind in cheapness and accessibility, 
but many light railways were blocked, or had suspended 
operations; much of their rolling-stock had been de- 
stroyed, or taken into Holland before the German ad- 
vance. As for the canals, some of the dykes had been 
cut and were not yet repaired; bridges had been blown 
up for military reasons; barges had been sunk; and at 
important points the Belgians were not permitted to ap- 
proach the canal embankments for fear they might at- 
tempt to damage the system to the detriment of the 
German armies. 

On December seventeenth Captain Sunderland, U. S. A., 
attached to the American Legation in The Hague, 
visited me in Antwerp and brought an urgent request 

1 Narrow-gauge steam railways, called in French, vicinaux, or 
neighborhood railways. 


from Captain J. F. Lucey at Rotterdam for information 
regarding the Belgian canals. The Rotterdam office had 
been in operation for eight weeks, yet in that time it had 
secured practically no information regarding the condi- 
tion of the Belgian waterways. In sheer desperation 
Captain Lucey had dispatched canal-boats of flour, rice, 
peas, and beans, without knowing whether the canals 
were navigable or blocked. 1 

On a matter so vital as this I could get no data for 
more than a week, and then I secured it from a Dutch 
spy who was in cahoots with the Germans, and so was 
able to travel through the Etappen district and along the 

A stream of supplies glided by and was warehoused, 
milled, distributed, baked, and consumed. Lighters daily 
floated up the Scheldt bearing romantic names such as 
" Marie Germaine," " Louisa/' " Ariel,;' " Deo Gloria," 
"Helene," "Rosalia," "Dorothea," "Maria Cecelia," 
" Josephina," " Madonna," " Maria Amelberga," " Fred- 

1 In the province of Antwerp the canals were 1 clear, except at 
one point. Our distribution was dependent almost exclusively on 
the waterways a troublesome state of affairs if these ways should 
freeze. The center of distribution was the city of Antwerp; sub- 
centers all reached by canals were at Turnhout, Malines, and 
Tamise. Under Antwerp we established sixteen cantonal or regional 
centers ; under Turnhout, six ; under Malines, two ; and under 
Tamise, two. From each of these centers, food was shipped once 
a we'ek by wagon, light railway, or canal-boat. In every commune 
there was a distributing center, usually in the schoolhouse or Town 
House, where the supplies were 1 weighed out in scales verified by the 
American delegate or his inspector, and delivered to rich and poor 
alike on presentation of a food-card. 


erika." A system of control was necessary, so that 
we might report to Rotterdam and Brussels on the 
passage of lighters not destined for Antwerp, for some- 
times we spent days patrolling the canals in search of a 
lighter which had dropped from sight almost as if swal- 
lowed by Father Scheldt himself. 

I appealed to Brussels for another assistant, especially 
for this work, and they sent us W. W. Flint, another of 
the indispensable " Rhodesters." He set out on a river 
boat and disappeared for five days. Then he returned 
to Antwerp with a tale of great adventures, arrests, de- 
tentions, conferences, and agreements. He had done his 
work well. Lillo, the frontier post on the Scheldt, was 
obviously the spot for our control station to report on 
the passage of Commission lighters. 

Fort Lillo was a high, old-fashioned earthwork on the 
Scheldt: a few trees, a few small Flemish houses in 
orderly rows, a single customs house overlooking the river 
that was all. When we motored out to the customs post, 
our limousine completely blocked the narrow lane before 
the customs house and drew all the civil and military 
population about us. Several Landsturm soldiers strolled 
up, puffing away at their pipes and staring. The Belgian 
population ranged itself silently about the car. The dead 
silence, the dropped jaws, the fixed eyes of such crowds 
were always disconcerting to us, but our Belgian 
chauffeur seemed as indifferent as a good actor before 
a crowded house. 


Two Belgian customs officers in faded green uni- 
forms and box caps came out, touched their foreheads, 
and bowed gravely. We explained our wants. Ah, we 
were the American Commission, then ? They would take 
delight in giving us the names of all Commission lighters 
passing Lillo. Name and shipment numbers, then ? Per- 
haps the German officer would telegraph this informa- 
tion to Mr. Hunt through the Civil Government at Ant- 
werp, for the officer was obliging. They, the Belgians, 
would be most happy to furnish the information regu- 
larly. We, the Americans, were saving their live^. They 
were infinitely grateful. 

We lifted our hats, shook hands all round, and motored 
to a small bar-room, the office of the commandant. 
He was a lonely young under-officer who greeted us 
with obvious pleasure because we broke the monotony of 
his exile. We explained our business. 

" Certainly, certainly," he said. " I am pleased to 
help. I will telephone every day what lighters pass 
Lillo. It is a pleasure to help." 

A day or two before Christmas, 1914, Curtis arrived 
from Rotterdam and there preceded him into the Ant- 
werp office a man in a raincoat and automobile cap, his 
serious, boyish face splashed with mud. 

" Mr. Hoover," explained Curtis, by way of introduc- 


It was the founder and Chairman of the Commission 
for Relief in Belgium. 

My guest quietly took a chair in a dark corner and 
required no further attention from me, although I 
thought he listened carefully to the word Curtis brought 
me from Rotterdam, and to the messages I sent by him 
to Brussels. 

"You deserve better quarters," he said as he was 

" I have them already," I answered. " Mr. Edouard 
Bunge, vice-president of our Belgian Committee, has 
donated an excellent suite of offices in his bank for the 
Commission's work." 

"Urn. . . . Good-by," he said. . . . 

That was my first encounter with Herbert Clark 


One of the thrilling experiences of the first month's 
work was the coming of the " Christmas Ship," the 
steamer full of Christmas gifts presented by the children 
of America to the children of war-ridden Belgium. I 
was amazed to find that before the ship docked in Rot- 
terdam the Belgian children knew all about it. By some 
occult means of communication, such as the Sudanese are 
reputed to employ, they had heard of the ship and under- 
stood its meaning. Saint Nicholas's day had brought 
them few presents. They were hungry for friendliness, 


and the thought of getting gifts from children across the 
sea meant unspeakable joy to them. 

We planned to distribute the presents on Christmas 
Day, but difficulties arose. The German authorities de- 
creed that every package should be opened in Rotterdam 
and every scrap of writing taken out before the presents 
were sent into Belgium. It was a tremendous task to 
search the gifts. Notes written by the American chil- 
dren to the Belgians were tucked away in all sorts of 
places : in the bottoms of bags of candy, in the backs of 
fairy books, in dolls, in pairs of shoes, in babies* dresses, 
in every likely and unlikely spot which a child's 
imagination could think of as a convenient receptacle for 
writing. And all the charming, naive little notes, pain- 
fully copied by childish hands, had to be removed before 
the presents could go forward. 

It was too late to get them into Belgium by Christmas 
Day, but three big motor-boats made the attempt. One 
went to Brussels, one to Liege, and one came to Antwerp. 
It brought boxes of clothing, outfits for babies, blankets, 
caps, bonnets, cloaks, shoes of every description, babies' 
boots, candy fish, striped candy canes, chocolates, and 
mountains of nuts nuts such as the Belgians had never 
seen in their lives before pecans, hickory nuts, Ameri- 
can walnuts, and peanuts galore. 

In one of the boxes of peanuts was a note which had 
escaped the vigilance of the searchers at Rotterdam. It 
was from Caleb Moss, of Texarkana, and he wrote in 


perfect certainty that the Belgian child who got the pea- 
nuts could read what was so carefully spelled in pain- 
ful English. 

" I dug these peanuts myself for you," the letter ran. 
" Please write me that you got them and what the Ger- 
mans did to you and all." . . . 

There were scores of dolls, French bisques smiling 
pleasantly, pop-eyed rag dolls, old darky mammy dolls, 
and Santa Clauses ; picture books, fairy books, and story 
books. One child had written in the cover of her book, 
" Father says I ought to send you my best picture book 
but I think that this one will do." 

I remember six linsey-woolsey dresses of a sort worn 
only in the Kentucky and Tennessee mountains, pitifully 
ugly and cheap, but symbolizing as fine charity as any- 
thing among the gifts. And there were bunched ears of 
corn tied with twine, given by Americans as poor as the 
Belgians for whom they were intended. These things 
made American sympathy more real to me than all the 
rest. My countrymen had " given what they could." 

As a direct result of these gifts, all Belgium learned 
the meaning of America's aid. Hitherto the people had 
known us officially through our Minister and through 
those of us who were beginning our service as delegates 
of the Commission for Relief in Belgium. The gifts made 
us and our country the personal givers of what Belgium 
was to eat and to wear through the months or years of 


war. Never after that was American help thought of in 
terms other than those of burning gratitude. 

Replicas of the American flag were scattered among 
the Christmas gifts, and through them our flag became 
familiar to all Belgium. Its sensational and violent sym- 
bolism must have seemed strange in a land accustomed 
for the most part to tri-colors, vertically or horizontally 
striped, but the Belgians loved our flag. At first we 
bore it on all Commission automobiles, and our trips fre- 
quently caused delightful demonstrations. The children, 
especially, were sure to recognize the red-white-and-blue 
and to wave and cheer as we darted by, although I think 
there was a shade of disappointment when they first 
learned that " the Americans " were not red-skins, that 
they did not wear feathers in their hair, and that in 
many respects they resembled the familiar Belgian type 
of bifurcated human animal. Later they thought of 
Americans as only a little lower than the angels. 

A beautiful letter of gratitude for the Christmas gifts 
was printed by the children of Antwerp to send to their 
American friends. The presses and even the type used, 
were made by the famous printer, Christopher Plantin, 
who lived in Antwerp three hundred and fifty years ago, 
and the impressions were struck off in the press-rooms 
of the Plantin-Moretus Museum, where Plantin printed 
and Rubens chatted with him at his work. The seal of 
the city of Antwerp, with the towers and roses and the 


severed hands of Druon Antigon, were set on the letter, 
together with the seal of Christopher Plantin and the 
round signatures of the children. 


There followed lighter after lighter of gifts; food 
which meant to the Belgian people not only health and 
life, but sympathy and support; gifts which were touch- 
ing evidence that their fate had not been forgotten in 
the free world beyond the lines of barbed-wire and 
bayonets. In the half year to come, all or part of the 
cargoes of one hundred and two ships was gift goods, 
and included in the number were entire gift-ships : five 
from Canada, three from the Rockefeller Foundation in 
New York, two from the New York Belgian Relief 
Fund, two from Philadelphia and the State of Pennsyl- 
vania, one from " the Northwestern Miller " group of 
Minneapolis, 1 and one from California. Publications 
such as the Literary Digest and Christian Herald of 
New York, solicited funds for the purchase of flour, 
Governors and Premiers issued appeals, and Belgian 
relief committees spontaneously organized in every state 
of the American Union, Hawaii, all parts of the United 
Kingdom, New South Wales, Canada, Victoria, India, 
New Zealand, Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, South 
Africa, the Argentine, China, Italy, Holland, and Spain. 

1 See Appendix XI, page 341. 

m c m jc 

iBtlgian tttuu 

itl) roe cotDtal tfmnte of tije 
poor cfnlDrrn of atntDUcrp 
to rtmr (nnd-ljeartrti coimaDto 
of rlic iDutrrD *>tatc o for tDnr 
nice Cftnftmaa presents;, s^ s^ s^ s^ s^ s^ 


Printed with the old 
original types of 

25 Dec. 1914. 

Christophorus Plantinus 


Souvenir made by the children of Antwerp to send to the children of 



About one-half of the total contributions came from 
the United States. 

A flood of Belgian acknowledgments greeted these 
gifts. The provincial offices of the Commission in Bel- 
gium were stacked with beautiful souvenirs for the 
American people. Silk banners, wrought metal boxes, 
leather work, a magnificent carpet woven on the 
famous looms at Westerloo and intended for the White 
House in Washington, lace souvenirs of great value and 
rare beauty, medallions symbolizing America's benevo- 
lent protection, picture post-cards, and etchings were 
among the gifts. 

But the most touching and the most original souvenirs 
were made of American flour sacks. No one knows who 
first planned these gifts. They seemed to spring up spon- 
taneously in all parts of Belgium as the simplest expres- 
sion of the feelings of the people. To take the sacks, 
emptied of their precious flour, and turn them into 
souvenirs for the American donors was an inspiration, 
and some of the results have been very beautiful. 
Most of them are embroidered with designs in finest 
needlework, and lettered " Homage to America," 
" Thanks to America," " Out of Gratitude to America," 
" Grateful Belgium to Kind America," " To the Saviour 
of Belgium," or in simplest Flemish or French, 
"Thanks." One of them shows Lady Columbia with a 
Belgian baby in her lap and is inscribed, " The Protect- 
ing Mother of Belgium." 


For to the Belgian people one thing seems very clear : 
that they would have starved without the intervention of 

Their gratitude also is poured out to Canada, and to 
Great Britain as a whole. The Belgians are intensely 
loyal to their allies. Little British flags decorate many 
of the souvenirs, and in one of the na'ive attempts to 
bracket Canada and the United States as benefactors of 
Belgium, a map has been drawn showing North America, 
which is lettered "the United States," and South 
America, which is lettered " Canada." 

Charming gifts came to the delegates as unofficial rep- 
resentatives of the American people. On the morning 
of New Year's Day our butler presented us with a 
pot of beautiful cyclamen and made us a little speech 
explaining that the blossoms were not his gift only; 
" they are from all the Belgian people to messieurs les 

There was a sacramental blessing in such gifts, and 
even when we laughed, as sometimes we did at the quaint- 
ness or the crudeness of some of the offerings, our laugh- 
ter was never far from tears. 

Some of the most touching remembrances came from 
children in all parts of the province. Every child in the 
town of Tamise, for example, wrote a letter to America 
and deposited it with me for transmission. All are in 


Flemish, and the handwriting gives a fair indication of 
the age of the authors. This one is by a little boy about 
nine years old. 

Good People of America: 

If I had a flying machine I would fly to America to 
thank the brave people there. I haven't one, so I 
write a little letter, and I tell you that I shall pray very 
much for you and never forget you. 


This is by a boy of ten : 

To Our Friends in America: 

How glad I am that I can thank you out of my whole 
heart, brave people of America, for all the things to eat 
and the warm clothing that you sent us, for without it we 
should certainly have died of hunger and cold. I want to 
come to America myself to thank all the brave people. 


This is by a still younger child : 

Dear America: 

I thank you because you sent great big boats over the 
great sea cat-boats rice, corn, bacon, stockings, clothing, 
and shoes. I know that you like the little Belgians, and I 
like you, too. ACHIEL MAES. 

Saint Josef School, Cauwerburg, Tamise. 

The letters are always childishly specific. A little boy 
of ten or eleven writes: 

Dear Americans: 

It is war here. We have known hunger and need. We 
have been fugitives. But, thank God, America helped us 


out of need by sending us clothing, beans, bacon, and bread. 
We thank America and the Americans also, and every day 
we pray Our Father for brave America. 


Here is another: 

Brave People of America: 

It is now war with us, and starvation has stood before 
the door. Our friends of America sent us meal, flour, 
bacon, and clothing, and we were freed from hunger and 
cold. Brave people of America, be therefore a thousand 
times thanked. 


Letters from the little girls are equally charming and 
naive. One of them runs: 

Oh, dear Americans, I am still small. My words can- 
not tell you very well how I want to thank you, but, dear 
Americans, you must feel my heart. 

I pray every day to the good God that He shall bless 
your lives and that He shall spare you from war, hunger, and 
all other horrors. 

Take, then, loving and noble gentlemen, with my deep- 
est feelings, the thanksgiving of my elder brothers and 

' A thankful heart, 


The next child is about twelve, and has decorated her 
letter with a very attractive border in the Belgian na- 
tional colors. "Ik ben de kleinste van ons huis" she 
writes, " en kan de meesie boterhammen eten " 


I am the littlest one in our house and can eat the most 
bread-and-butter, and now that our bread is made of such 
good flour I can hardly leave a piece of it alone. It is thanks 
to you that I can eat so well, for your flour is delicious, and 
in order to thank you I pray the Giver of All Good that He 
will bless you. Your faithful, 


Another little girl about ten years old writes: 

I often saw Mother weep when we came downstairs in 
the morning, because she could not give us the bread we 
asked for, because there was no flour. But you have dried 
her tears with the good flour which you have sent. 

" Drying tears with flour " may sound amusing, but 
Julia Soevenirs was expressing a very serious feeling. 

The next letter, from Jennie Ketels, speaks of the 
method by which food imported by the Commission for 
Relief in Belgium is sold to those able to pay for it, the 
profit going to relieve the destitute. 

It v/as so sad here. There was almost nothing more to 
eat, but dear America has come to our help. You sent us 
flour, rice, maize, and clothing, and in Tamise now there 
is also a little shop where one can buy things to eat at the 
usual prices, and that also is thanks to you, O good Amer- 
icans. What would have become of our dear Belgian land 
without you ! 

The following refers to the same little shop: 

Business lies all still here, and so Father is without 
work. And we should certainly have had to eat up the very 


last penny we had, if it were not that gracious America 
came to our help. Thanks, good gentlemen, for the shop 
opened here in Tamise, where we can buy our food at the 
usual prices. I shall pray the Lord that He will bless you. 
Your thankful, 


The next letter is a charming tribute: 

I have often heard a little girl friend of mine speak of 
an uncle who sent her many things from America, and I 
was jealous. But now I have more than one uncle, and 
they send me more than my friend's uncle did, for it is 
thanks to you, dear uncles, that I can have a good slice of 
bread every day. 


Suzanne de Gibber's letter is philosophical: 

I have often heard people speak of great and rich 
America, but with my childish understanding I could not 
imagine that it was possible. Yet now that Mother tells 
us every day, ' This bread, this bacon comes from our 
friends in America,' I am overjoyed that your land is not 
only rich, but that its inhabitants are kind-hearted and 
lovingly disposed toward the tried Belgians. 

There is more than a touch of Flemish humor in the 
next letter: 

If you could see me now you would not know me, for 
I am dressed entirely in a little American suit of clothes. 
Oh, what a warm, solid suit it is ! 


And here is a letter intended for the President of the 
United States: 

Highly Honored Mr. President: 

Although I am still very young, I feel already that feel- 
ing of thankfulness which we as Belgians owe to you, 
highly honored Mr. President, because you have come to 
our help in these dreary times. Without your help there 
would certainly have been thousands of war victims, and so, 
noble sir, I pray that God will bless you and all the noble 
American people. 

That is the wish of all the Belgian folk. 



Belgium gave her word of honor to defend her inde- 
pendence. She has kept her word. 

The other Powers had agreed to protect and to respect 
Belgian neutrality: Germany has broken her word; Eng- 
land has been faithful to it. 

These are the facts . . . 

I consider it an obligation of my pastoral charge to 
define to you your conscientious duties toward the Power 
which has invaded our soil, and which, for the moment, 
occupies the greater part of it. 

This Power has no authority, and therefore in the depth 
of your heart you should render it neither esteem, nor 
attachment, nor respect. 

The only legitimate power in Belgium is that which 
belongs to our King, to his Government, to the Repre- 
sentatives of the Nation. That alone is authority for us. 
That alone has a right to our heart's affection, and to our 


These are the words I read in a little green-bound book- 
let called " Patriotism and Endurance/* sent me about 
Christmastime. Inside had been written in English in 
a firm, delicate hand : "To Mr. Edward Eyre Hunt, 
Cordial souvenir, * D. J. Card. Mercier, Archbishop of 

It was the famous New Year's pastoral. Its author 
is the bravest man in Belgium.* 

The Cardinal-Archbishop is like a Degas painting, if 
Degas had pictured Cardinals instead of ballet-dancers. 
He receives in a tiny whitewashed room furnished with 
horsehair chairs, walnut-wood desk and table, and a 
small coal stove. On the wall is a beautiful little image 
of the Virgin, framed in glass. Through the windows 
one looks into a dead garden where shells have plunged 
and burst. 

From the archiepiscopal closet one may wander 
through long white halls and cloisters, formerly open to 
wind and rain, I suspect, now closed and glassed from 
the elements by a less heroic race. One may see the 
salon which used to be a hall of state, where German 
shells have torn through the roof and burst, leaving 
jagged fragments in the tall mirrors, so that the glass 
is splintered like ice under the hammer and flings 
grotesque reflections and spars of light into the emptiness 
overhead. The dais with its crimson hangings drops in 
shreds; the hardwood floor is plowed and uprooted, and 

1 See Appendix XII, page 341. 


carven cherubim smile placidly from the wreckage. In 
still another room huddle paintings of Archbishops of old : 
saints and politicians, ascetics, and men of the world, 
long forgotten now in spite of their imposing 
Louis Quatorze wigs; and among them the familiar 
faces of the Popes, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Bene- 
dict XV. 

The Cardinal seems preternaturally tall; six feet five, 
I think. His face, thin, scholarly, ascetic, with sparse, 
grayish-white hair above it, is bloodless, and his forehead 
so white that one feels one looks on the naked bone. 
His eyes are deep-set, the eyes of a man who sees a 
great deal. There is a pleasantly humorous look about 
the corners of the firm mouth, but the expression of his 
face in conversation is that of a man who knows what 
he thinks, measures what he says, and feels in advance 
the exact effect of every remark he makes and of every 
look he casts upon one. His black habit with the 
cardinal-red braid, the heavy gold chain about his neck, 
and the heavy gold cross at his breast, the wide violet 
sash and the black-skirted cassock all serve to empha- 
size the old ivory whiteness and tooled artistry of the fine 
face above them. 

There is something feminine in the Cardinal's face, a 
feminine deference and sympathy and comprehension 
perhaps, but the effect which he makes on a caller is the 
same as he makes on the world at large that of a -finely 


poised, keenly intelligent, yet very gentle Prince of the 
Church and shepherd of a nation. 

The beginning of the war found the Catholic Party 
in Belgium vacillating. Two or three of its leaders in 
Parliament and at least one in the Cabinet counseled 
against resistance to the invaders. When the German 
armies overran eastern Belgium many priests ran away 
from their flocks. Now religion in certain classes in 
Belgium is hardly more than skin-deep, and the timid 
patriotism of some of the Catholic authorities might well 
have cost the Church its leadership if the Cardinal had not 
taken his firm stand. The pastoral letter was good 
politics and it was also a noble assertion of what was in 
every liberty-loving heart and in the Cardinal's most 
of all. In him conquered Belgium found a voice. She 
recovered her pride and something of her old buoyancy 
and resistance to the Germans became bolder. Belgium 
had re-discovered her leaders. 

On New Year's Sunday, 1915, every priest at the 
mass read out the Cardinal's ringing challenge to the 
nation. German soldiers were in the churches, but by 
some mysterious means the letter had been distributed 
to the priests without a word of it reaching the ears 
of the authorities, and the astonished soldiers could 
only listen in open-mouthed amazement. The Governor- 
General appears to have been taken completely by sur- 
prise. But after the first mass orders came swiftly 

^ r 



from headquarters prohibiting further readings and de- 
manding that every copy of the letter be surrendered to 
the Germans. Soldiers forced their way into churches 
and rectories and extorted the letter from the priests at 
the bayonet's point; the readers were arrested for re- 
calcitrance and haled to Kommandanturs; but in spite of 
these measures, copies of the letter were scattered abroad, 
and on the second Sunday, in churches in practically 
every city in Belgium, priests read out the Cardinal's 
sonorous words. 

Meanwhile in Malines a dramatic struggle was on. 
The archiepiscopal printer, Mr. Charles Dessain, Burgo- 
master of Malines, was in England. His brother Fran- 
cis, the acting Burgomaster, an Oxford graduate and a 
prominent lawyer, printed the letter in his brother's book- 
shop and had it delivered to the Cardinal's secretary. 
On New Year's night Mr. Francis Dessain was awak- 
ened at midnight by the rattle of gravel against his win- 
dow. He looked out to see five muffled figures standing 
in the street below, one of whom asked him in French 
to come down and open the door. When the bolts had 
been slipped back in the big Flemish door and an open- 
ing appeared, wide enough for a man's arm, Mr. Des- 
sain was suddenly seized, and a voice hissed : " Say a 
word and you will be shot ! " 

The door swung wide. In stepped a German in 
civilian clothes and four others in the uniform of offi- 
cers. Behind them came a squad of soldiers with 'fixed 


bayonets, who stood guard in the halls and court- 

Mr. Dessain was taken into his library ; there the offi- 
cers and he sat down, and a long examination began. 
As it proceeded, Mr. Dessain' s eye fell on a printed 
copy of the proscribed letter lying in plain view on his 
desk. He felt an insane desire to conceal that particular 
copy; an insane anxiety for fear the Germans would 
discover it. 

At two o'clock in the morning the examination ended. 
Mr. Dessain was ordered to prison; but as he stood 
up to leave the room, he unobtrusively reached for 
the copy of the pastoral letter, covered it with another 
book, and then marched off with his mind relieved of 
a very heavy burden. 

In the case of the Cardinal, of course, the problem 
for the Germans was much more difficult than in the 
case of the printer. They could not imprison a Prince 
of the Church for fear of its evil effect on German 
Catholic opinion; so Governor-General von Bissing 
adopted the easier plan of sending an emissary to the 
Cardinal to demand that the letter be suppressed in toto, 
on the ground that it would incite to rebellion. The 
Cardinal refused to recall the letter. The emissary then 
submitted a set of propositions for the Cardinal's signa- 
ture, meanwhile intimating to His Eminence that the 
Governor-General wished him to remain in his palace for 


the present. This quasi-confinement lasted only for a 
day, but it was the foundation for sensational rumors of 
the Cardinal's imprisonment. Of course the Cardinal 
signed none of the papers submitted to him. 

The net result of this manceuvering was, as I have said, 
that a few bold priests actually read the letter on two 
Sundays in succession, that every man, woman, and child 
in Belgium knew its contents, and that the outside world 
buzzed with conjectures. 

The Cardinal was quickly released, and the printer, 
after three days in prison, was tried and sentenced to pay 
a fine of five hundred marks. 


Patriotism was a cult. Symbols were marvelously 
dear. 1 Puzzles showing when the war would end or 
prognosticating the date of the Kaiser's death were 
reverenced to an extraordinary degree. Medallions of 
King Albert, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Leopold, Duke of 
Brabant, Prince Charles Theodore, Count of Flanders, 
and the curly-headed Princess, Marie Jose, were treasured 
like sacred relics. The Belgian flag was forbidden, 
but black-yellow-and-red cord was used in wrapping 
packages in the shops ; blouses were made in the national 
colors; hats were trimmed with them; and little rosettes 
of them were worn in all patriotic buttonholes. 

1 See Appendix XII, page 341. 


Even the hands of a man's watch were an indication 
of his patriotism. European Central time the standard 
time of the German Empire was forced upon Belgium 
by the military in order to avoid conflicts in time with 
Berlin. The Belgians ordinarily keep Greenwich time 
a full hour earlier than German time and they stub- 
bornly refused to accept the new time, even with the 
weight of the law behind it. Clocks on church towers 
and in all public places were obliged to keep German 
time, or those responsible for their upkeep were fined. 
It was no excuse to plead that one's clock was an hour 
slow: the Germans knew better. 

The thing was comic especially if one remembers 
the time-worn charge against the Germans in 1 870*7 1 : 
that they always stole French clocks! But it was not 
so funny when one began to mix engagements. We 
Americans kept Belgian time. If we arranged for a 
German to call at one and a Belgian to call at twelve, 
they arrived at exactly the same moment and glowered 
at each other in the ante-room. The cathedral clock in 
Antwerp furnishes time for the whole country-side. The 
clock was obliged to record German time, of course ; but 
when the city fathers sent out notices of municipal meet- 
ings, they avoided the suggestion that the clock kept 
unpatriotic time by stating that the meeting would be, say, 
at two o'clock, " hour of the Tower." * 

1 There was an Antwerp family whose patriotism was under 
suspicion, because, it was rumored, they kept German time. 


Many clocks in public places were allowed to run down 
as a patriotic protest. 

But simple matters like these constantly bordered on 
tragedy. On the night of December thirty-first at about 
eleven o'clock Belgian time there was an outbreak of 
shooting and yelling in the streets of Antwerp. People 
fled to their cellars as they had done during the bombard- 
ment three months before. The big guns in some of the 
forts began booming and close at hand in the town echoed 
volleys of musketry and isolated shots. It sounded as if 
rioting had broken out and as if the Germans were quell- 
ing it with tremendous uproar. Then down the streets 
rolled the sudden blare of a band and a mighty chorus 
of voices beginning " The Watch on the Rhine/' ... It 
was midnight, German time, and the soldiers were cele- 
brating the birth of a new year. 

The tenacious patriotism which had been awakened by 
the war is new in Belgian history. Local pride, local 
traditions, local dialects and manners had been developed 
at the expense of wider civic loyalties. The Belgian state 
was not in existence before 1830; but the Belgian com- 
mune has been in existence from time immemorial. It 
had survived under an almost endless trampling of for- 
eign armies. Spaniard, Austrian, French- and Dutch- 
man marched over it with the centuries. So that the 
commune, not the nation, was the Belgian fatherland. 

But war, which translated their parochialism into 


patriotism, stole from the people their new-found coun- 
try and their King, set foreigners to rule over them, and 
thrust them impotently back again into their narrow com- 
munes. The pity of it can never be told : the shame of it, 
the broken pride, and the baffled longing. Ruined and 
embittered, they turned for consolation inward upon 
themselves, or to the Church. 

One day, long after the event, there came a big, black- 
bordered announcement that the nineteen-year-old son 
of an Antwerp house had been killed at the Yser. 
Later still his body was brought home for burial 
through England and Holland the only instance of the 
sort which I recall. One of my Belgian friends described 
the service. 

" We are forbidden to have our flag, but a priest 
brought it and laid it over the coffin, and in that naked 
church, where we stood about him with our candles, it 
seemed a sacrament of all the body and blood of 
Belgium poured out in this war. I am not a believer, 
but I wept. 

" At the last the organ played the ' Brabangonne.' It 
was heart-rending to hear our national anthem played so 
and at such a time. I knew abject despair at that mo- 
ment, and there was not one there who did not weep, 
except him that was in the coffin." 

Always on quiet nights, often in the daytime, we 
heard the guns. The hard pulse-beat of cannon along 


the Yser or on the North Sea filled all that one thought or 
did. Hope flew like wild winds over Belgium if the 
noise were unusually loud ; but it was hope mingled with 
fear. The people of Antwerp often talked of what 
seemed to them an inevitable thing the second bombard- 
ment of their city when their rescuers, the British and 
French, rolled back the German armies and came pound- 
ing at the doors. 

The wildest rumors seemed sane. Belgians could not 
write to the front. They got no word from their army 
and their loved ones, except such as spies and frontier- 
runners brought them and spread by word of mouth, or 
an occasional message dropped in a celluloid tube by an 
Allied aeroplane, so the words of most encouragement 
were spoken by the Yser guns. 

" Did you hear the cannon last night, sir ? " the 'long- 
shoremen often asked me on my visits of inspection to 
the Commission docks and warehouses. " The English- 
men will be here in a month ! " And every one turned 
to his work more joyfully. 


Only a common danger of appalling proportions could 
weld the Belgians into a nation. Other forces than local 
partiotism fought against national unity. Belgium had 
been divided to an extent which Americans can hardly 
credit. " The coming revolution " was in all men's 
minds and on most men's tongue. Before King Albert's 


face the Socialists had cried, " Hurrah for the re- 
public ! " Parliament and press were battlegrounds 
where fundamental political principles met and fought: 
Republicanism against Monarchy, Clericalism against 
Anti-Clericalism, Flemings against French-speaking Wal- 
loons, Socialism against Capitalism. Business, society, 
every department of life, was divided and subdivided 
into self-contained cliques. The bitterness of the 
struggle and the disunion were almost unbelievable. 

And even in the midst of war men could not be ex- 
pected to lay aside fundamental principles. Only an 
overwhelming calamity could arrest the internal struggle. 
Not until all politicians, populace, clergy, republicans, 
and Clericals found themselves confronted with the 
physical problem of mere existence, could they forget 
their quarrels. Before the necessity for food and cloth- 
ing; before the naked, elemental needs of life, even pri- 
mary principles went down. 

But the process was not complete. Belgians still 
feared and distrusted their fellow Belgians. War exag- 
gerated certain of their suspicions, instead of allaying 
them. In theory the Antwerp Relief Committee repre- 
sented all classes and all interests, but some one group 
had to be in control. Monsignor Cleynhens, doyen of 
the Cathedral of Notre Dame, in his black cassock with 
purple facings, sat beside Common Counselor Delan- 
noy, once a dock laborer, now a Socialist leader. 
Edouard Bunge, merchant prince; Senator Alfred Ryk- 


mans, lawyer, Clerical, conservative; Jean Delia Faille, 
proprietor; Alfred Cools, the Socialist Controller of 
Antwerp (Echevin des Finances) ; Francis Dessain of 
Malines, Oxford graduate, lawyer, and athletic church- 
man who made Rugby football popular in Belgium ; the 
great landed proprietor, young Count Charles de Merode 
de Westerloo, whose ancestor had been offered the Bel- 
gian crown by the top-hatted revolutionaries who freed 
the land from William Fourth in 1830; octogenarian 
Dr. Victor Desguin, alderman of Antwerp, and dean of 
Liberal politicians; Walter Blaess, representative of 
Lloyd's ; Emmanuel Montens, member of the Permanent 
Deputation of the Provincial Council; Jakob Smits, 
artist, genre painter and etcher, with the temperament 
proper to his high calling, 11 such men as these were 
members of the Committee presided over by the Liberal 
Deputy, Louis Franck. 

Such .a machine could not run smoothly from the 
start. There was a period of necessary readjustment and 
even of revolt, in which the role of the Americans was 
to fight for independence from political influence and 
for administrative unity. 

At the first meeting of the Provincial Committee a 
list of proposed members, whose names of course meant 
nothing to me, was submitted and approved. The first 
circular letter to the communes contained a copy of this 

1 See Appendix XIV, page 342. 


list. The nominees were notable citizens of the three 
arrondissements Antwerp, Turnhout, and Malines. 

A week later four gentlemen from the arrondissement 
of Turnhout came into my private office to protest 
against inclusion in the Antwerp provincial organization. 
They told me that they wished to deal with Brussels and 
not with Antwerp. They would be delighted to deal 
with me personally, or through the Brussels Committee; 
but they did not wish to deal through the Antwerp Com- 

At the second meeting the trouble came to a head. 
There was an exciting moment when all the Turnhout 
delegates were on their feet at once, speaking Flemish 
instead of French, as they usually did when much ex- 
cited, protesting that they had never seen the circular ad- 
dressed to the communes, an answer to which was re- 
quired on the following day, and adding that they were 
appealing to Brussels for complete separation from Ant- 

I protested vigorously against division. They pa- 
tiently explained again that they would be delighted to 
deal directly with the kind Americans, but that they did 
not wish to deal with them through the Antwerp Com- 
mittee. One of the gentlemen wept in the excess of his 
feelings, and choruses of recriminations, which I could 
not understand, were exchanged between the groups. 
When had Antwerp, rich and pious in the Middle Ages 
now subject to tradesmen and freemasons when had 


it been generous to Turnhout? Or when had Turnhout, 
rustic, old-fashioned, and Clerical, trusted the merchants 
of Antwerp? 

I count it one of the miracles of our work that on this 
foundation we built a solid, durable relief organization. 

Turnhout had not yet received an ounce of American 
foodstuffs and had not fathomed the purpose of the 
American Commission. It looked on us as an associa- 
tion of benevolent grain-dealers, selling flour to a body 
of Antwerp business men, who, in turn, would resell it 
to the Turnhout delegation, of course at a profit to them- 
selves ! 

I had not the least intention of permitting a division 
of the province. But the difficulties of communication 
were still so great that Brussels ratified the secession of 
Turnhout before my reports reached them. The division 
appealed to them as logical, since the agglomeration of 
Brussels was treated as a separate organism in the relief 
work ; another committee having been created for the re- 
mainder of the province of Brabant. But more as a 
favor to me than for any sounder reason, Brussels con- 
sented to reverse this judgment, and on January first they 
sent me a fourth assistant, Richard Harvey Simpson, 
" Rhodester " like the rest, especially to take charge of 
the arrondissement of Turnhout. 

The arrondissement of Malines was restive for much 
the same reasons as Turnhout. The city of Antwerp 
had shipped them no food from its stores, acting- 


Burgomaster Francis Dessain had borrowed food 
from the German authorities much as the Jews "bor- 
rowed" from the Egyptians before the crossing of 
the Red Sea, and had even appropriated a lighter of 
commission grain en route to Brussels, rather than see 
his townspeople without bread. Conditions were most 
unsatisfactory, but for the sake of harmony the Malines 
delegates pledged themselves to work with the Antwerp 
organization, and Oliver C. Carmichael was assigned to 
duty as delegate for the arrondissement committee of 

There was good reason for Antwerp to be in control. 
The city had been for a month and a half the capital of 
Belgium after the fall of Brussels. Cash, credit, and food 
were at her command. She was the sole support of the 
poorer communities about her, especially the seventy- 
seven communes lying inside the rings of fortifications. 
Up to the time that I became delegate for the fortress 
and province, every bit of relief which had been given 
out had been due to the generosity of the municipality 
of Antwerp, and had been apportioned through its 
municipal organizations. 1 

Relief, then, was a municipal matter from the point of 
view of the Antwerp authorities. These authorities 
were party men. They belonged to the Liberal or So- 
cialist party. No Catholics were among them. With a 
fine spirit of patriotism they had shared with their neigh- 

1 See Appendix XV, page 343. 


bor communes what food and money the municipality 
controlled, but they saw no reason why they should not 
claim credit for their generosity, or why they should sur- 
render their favored position at the center of supplies 
when food began to come from America instead of the 
municipal warehouses. 


As American delegate I was pledged to a different 
point of view. 

The work we were inaugurating touched one million 
people and one hundred and sixty-five communes. It 
required a meticulous system of distribution and control, 
so that there should not be one ounce of waste or mis- 
use. Business men with long experience in handling 
big business affairs alone could manage such a structure 
as we planned, so that it was obvious from the start 
that the Antwerp Provincial Relief Committee must be 
divorced from the Antwerp Town Hall and the group 
of party men who had so ably ministered to the wants 
lying close at hand. 

The preliminaries to the divorce were comical. Brans- 
comb, who was just nineteen, had been designated to act 
as delegate for the city. Almost his first duty was to 
remonstrate with the local committee regarding their 
reports. Standing in the midst of half the aldermen and 
politicians of the greatest of Flemish cities, Branscomb 
quietly but insistently drawled, " We cannot and we will 


not send another such report as this to Brussels. Re- 
ports must have our signature as American delegates. 
We will not give our signatures to tardy and un-business- 
like reports." 

The Controller of Antwerp whimsically remarked to 
one of his friends, " I have been accustomed to handle 
millions of francs every day, and now these young 
Americans come and ask me what became of such-and- 
such a bag of flour last week ! " 

None of us was out of his twenties. We were beard- 
less boys in the assemblies of our elders, but young or 
old we were equal participators in a thrilling undertaking, 
and we intended to do our part. Our Belgian co- 
workers were as eager as we to have the work done ex- 
peditiously and well, but while they were volunteers, like 
ourselves, with temporary powers and prerogatives, they 
were not disinterested aliens but responsible citizens, and 
they dared not use their authority as if it were per- 
manent. They could not make enemies and sleep sweetly 
o' nights into the bargain, so we borrowed their worries 
and took the initiative, even when it seemed rightly to be- 
long to the Belgians and when a count of noses would 
have given us a Belgian majority. 

In this as in other matters our neutrality was no nega- 
tive thing. It was positive, aggressive, and self-confident. 

In an open meeting of the Provincial Committee and 
with no previous notice to the members, I transferred 


the work of provisioning for the entire arrondissement 
of Antwerp from the Town Hall to a suite of rooms in 
the National Bank, kindly vacated for us by Mr. Ferdi- 
nand Carlier, the director of the bank, and I designated 
a new delegate, Thomas O. Connett, to serve as repre- 
sentative for the arrondissement of Antwerp, with in- 
structions to arrange immediately for a census of all 
bread and flour consumers in the district. The transfer 
was completed in four days. Such precipitate action ap- 
palled some of our supporters in the Committee, but 
even at some cost to the pride and prestige of the local 
managers we were warmly backed, and those who first 
opposed learned later to applaud. " Time has shown 
that you were right and that we were wrong," was the 
generous summary of Mr. Louis Franck, months after 
our little revolution was accomplished. 

Connett was a quiet, unobtrusive young Cambridge 
student, about twenty-two years old. In three weeks 
time, with the co-operation of Mr. Ferdinand Carlier 
and the staff of bank clerks, he had card-indexed the 
city of Antwerp and reorganized the system of control 
over food distributions with a saving of about one-fifth 
of the supplies. 

The work of the Commission for Relief in Belgium 
and the National Relief Committee brought together in 
a community like Antwerp groups which had never 
known each other except as the most bitter rivals. This 


was often called to my attention. It gave me, as time 
went on and as I saw more deeply into the situation 
than I could possibly do at the 'beginning, a chance to 
understand and to admire the splendid spirit of prac- 
tically all who worked with us. It was too much to ex- 
pect men to give up at a stroke the animosities and con- 
flicts of years. Politics was played under our very noses. 
But, perhaps for the first time in Belgium, there was a 
definite feeling of the pettiness of politics in the face of 
national calamity. The best men in every part of the 
province slaved at the work of relief. Nearly three 
thousand served on our communal committees in Ant- 
werp, and by the simple rule that all parties and cliques 
should be actively represented, the Commission and the 
National Relief Committee managed to bring together 
and to keep together representatives of the best in all. 

Thus the Turnhout revolt was put down without blood- 
shed, and the gentlemen of the Turnhout arrondisse- 
ment committee were soon among the most loyal of 
our coadjutors; the arrondissement of Malines worked 
splendidly, under the leadership of Cardinal Mercier and 
Messrs. Francis Dessain and Dr. Paul Lamborelle; the 
arrondissement of Antwerp was reorganized and gal- 
vanized into activity, and, for the Commission, each 
arrondissement was represented by one or more Ameri- 
can delegates. 1 

1 See Appendix XVI, page 344, and Appendix XVII, page 345. 



Brussels now added to our charge a part of the 
province of East Flanders, called in Flemish Waes- 
land, and in French le pay de Waes. It was an ar- 
rondissement lying on the left bank of the Scheldt north- 
east of Ghent. Seventy years ago it was a tract of sandy 
moorland; just before the war it was one of the most 
productive and most highly cultivated regions in Bel- 
gium with an agricultural population of more than 
five hundred to the square mile. Its capital, Saint 
Nicolas, had a population of more than thirty-five 

This teritory, belonging to the Provincial Committee 
at Ghent, was easy of access from Antwerp, but was a 
burden to the American delegates in Ghent, since their 
entire attention was directed toward the needy regions 
nearer the fighting-lines. I offered to assume charge 
of the Waesland for the Provincial Committee of 
East Flanders, but without adding it to the administra- 
tion of the Belgian Committee of Antwerp. There was 
an excellent mill at Tamise; shipments from Rotterdam 
could go directly to Tamise, and from there be forwarded 
by light railway or wagon to Saint Nicolas. 

This arrangement our Brussels office and the National 
Committee ratified, and a fifth delegate to the Antwerp 
staff, W. W. Stratton W. W. Flint had returned to 
Oxford came to take charge of the Waesland work. 


Stratton was a young " Rhodester " from the State of 
Utah; tirelessly energetic and intelligent. 

The Waesland brought with it peculiar difficulties, 
since it lay in a part of Belgium outside the control of 
Governor-General von Bissing. It required special passes 
for travel, special rules for administration, and some- 
times special supplies. 

The Waesland also brought special thrills. Riding to 
Ghent from Antwerp was almost as exciting as the 
famous ride from Ghent to Aix which Browning 
imagined and sung. Once it brought me the dubious 
honor of the German " goose-step." 

I fancy I am the only civilian, neutral or belligerent, 
for whom the " goose-step " has been done since the war 
began. It was a sadly misplaced parade-march. I 
was returning from Ghent to Antwerp in a closed limou- 
sine when an open automobile full of German officers 
cut across our bows at the outskirts of a Waesland town 
called Lokeren. My automobile had created a stir in the 
Etap pen-Inspection, because it was the only car per- 
mitted to a civilian, with the single exception of the car 
belonging to the American Consul-General and Vice-Con- 
sul in Ghent. The officers stared at me in astonishment 
as they passed. Their car then rolled along about fifty 
feet ahead, when suddenly up the street appeared a de- 
tachment of troops. Far away I heard a gruff, " Auf! " 
as the soldiers came face to face with the car full of 
officers, and at the command all the troops began the 


" goose-step," vigorously smacking the cobble-stones as 
they strode past the car. 

Then the officer in command of the detachment caught 
sight of my car. " A limousine following a large car 
filled with officers!" he must have thought. "The 
Kaiser or the Crown Prince, nichtf " There came a sec- 
ond " AUF! ! !" considerably louder than the first, and 
the whole company paraded by, with stiff necks, heads 
at right angles, and the pavement volleying like a storm. 

In Ghent, as in Antwerp, few young men were to be 
seen. Many of those who had stayed until the city was 
occupied by the Germans had later fled over the frontier, 
afraid lest they should be impressed into the army and 
sent to fight the Russians. No part of the city had been 
harmed ; it had never been bombarded, or even besieged, 
and this in part was due to Burgomaster Braun. 

The Burgomaster of Ghent is the son of a German 
school-teacher, but a thoroughgoing Belgian. When the 
invaders drew near he marched out in medieval fashion 
to meet them, and addressed the German general at the 
head of his troops. 

" General," he said, speaking deliberately in French, 
" I do not come to you, as formerly the Burgomaster of 
Ghent came to the Emperor Charles Fifth, clad only in a 
shirt and with a rope about my neck! No, General, I 
come before you as a Belgian patriot." And the general 
spared him and his city. 


Most of us have read many times in Belgian history 
of citizens compelled to meet their conquerors, clad only 
in their shirts and with a halter about their necks. 
" Only in their shirts " sounds immodest, until you see 
and wear a Belgian shirt. The garment is especially de- 
signed to meet the needs of just such historical occasions 
as the surrender of Ghent to the Emperor Charles. It has, 
even today, long skirts which cover everything almost as 
far down as the ankles, in spite of a tentative slit effect 
which crawls perhaps as high as the knees. You would 
feel no hesitation at being presented at court or in con- 
ducting divine service in such a modest dress. Never- 
theless we Americans sawed off the skirts with knives 
and scissors, until the happy day when Simpson discov- 
ered Leyendecker shirts and Arrow collars in a shop 
on the Rempart Kipdorp. 


By February first, the operations of the Commission 
and the National Relief Committee had grown enor- 
mously. Arrivals from Rotterdam amounted to about 
eight thousand tons a month. 1 If one figures that each 
province should have local supplies for at least fifteen 
days in stock or en route, this means three thousand to 
twenty thousand tons of merchandise, which, at an aver- 
age price of four hundred francs a ton, totals from one 
million to eight million francs. Thus these sums were im- 

1 See Appendix XVIII, page 345. 


mobilized, and the National Committee bore the expense. 
Such a burden had to be adjusted. The financial guaran- 
tees covering merchandise for the province of Antwerp 
had at first been assumed by the city, but that was at the 
very beginning when arrivals were small. The prov- 
inces of Hainaut, Luxembourg, Liege, Namur, East 
Flanders, and Limbourg, not having city funds available, 
had formed co-operative societies to fund the work of 
the Provincial Committees. The National Committee 
insisted that Antwerp do the same. 

Capital was desirable from several points of view. 
Some of the provinces had stocks of agricultural prod- 
uce, such as potatoes, which were much needed in other 
parts of the country. Antwerp possessed certain stores 
which the Germans might be persuaded to release to 
the relief committees for Belgian consumption, and for 
these inter-provincial trades capital was required. The 
Committees were obliged, also, to buy in the open market 
salt, fuel, and other things not imported by the Commis- 
sion for Relief in Belgium. 1 

The Provincial Committee decided to transform its 
provisioning department into a co-operative society with 
a minimum capital of twelve million francs. 2 

The subscribers to the new co-operative were the city 
of Antwerp, the province of Antwerp, and forty-five 
banks, commercial houses, or individual groups of sub- 

1 See Appendix XIX, page 347. 

2 See Appendix XX, page 347. 


scribers. The cooperative had for its principal object 
" the feeding of the civil population of the province of 
Antwerp by purchase and sale of cereals, of foodstuffs, 
and generally of all things necessary or useful to human 

" It has also for its purpose the feeding of the live- 
stock of the province of Antwerp by the purchase and 
sale of grain, oil-cakes, and other forage, and generally 
of all things necessary and useful to animal life." 

And included in its charter were the following provi- 
sions : 

" It shall have a life of five years from the present 
date, but it may be dissolved before that time by a gen- 
eral assembly of a majority of its associates, but only 
after the conclusion of peace. A member is not per- 
mitted to withdraw before the dissolution of the co-op- 
erative. Of the net profits, after the constitution of a 
reserve, which the council shall determine, there shall 
be set aside an annual interest of three per cent on the 
capital to the profit of the associates, and the balance 
. . . shall be credited to the benevolent department of 
the Provincial Relief Committee of the province of 
Antwerp." l 

Among the individual subscribers to this excellent or- 
ganization was Cardinal Mercier, whose power of at- 

1 Belgian law requires that co-operative societies shall have a 
capital, shall pay a dividend, and shall be constituted for a limited 
period of years, not exceeding thirty, with the power, however, 
of renewal. 


torney I held and whom I represented in the articles of 

The executive committee of the co-operative acted as 
executive committee of the provisioning department of 
the Provincial Committee, and they and their staff of 
clerks were housed in offices adjoining those of the Com- 
mission delegates. 

By the creation of the co-operative society we saw our 
labors at provincial headquarters safe on the highway 
to success. A purely commercial management replaced 
the quasi-political organization of the earlier days, and 
the commercial department was definitely separated from 
the Town Hall and lodged with us in a new bank build- 
ing at 2 Marche aux Grains, finished just before the out- 
break of the war, and given rent-free to the Commission 
and the Provincial Committee by Mr. Edouard Bunge. 
We now desired that the benevolent department of the 
Provincial Committee be housed with us, and after some 
negotiations, it, too, was transferred from the Town Hall 
and placed in offices adjacent to ours. 

The days of disunion and divided efforts thus passed 
away from Antwerp. The very name of the bank where 
we were housed was a good omen for the future. It 
was "la banque de r Union anuersoise" The Bank of 
the Union of Antwerp. 



The conditions of war soon grow to seem normal, but 
there is an emotional and physical strain about them 
which eats at one's heart. We Americans were very busy 
and we were happy. On the Antwerp staff from time 
to time the members shifted, some going back to Oxford 
or to America, others to stations in other parts of Bel- 
gium or northern France were B. H. Branscomb, O. C. 
Carmichael, R. H. Simpson, W. W. Flint, W. W. Strat- 
ton, T. O. Connett, Gardner Richardson, G. H. Stockton, 
and J. B. Van Schaick. Our normal number was five. 
We lived in a quiet Antwerp mansion, given us by our 
friend, Mr. Edouard Bunge, vice-president of the Provin- 
cial Committee. From the windows we overlooked a 
little park, and the capped, thoughtful statue of the 
artist Quinten Metseys. The lintel of our doorway was 
gashed, where an incendiary shell, striking in the street, 
had ricochetted and burst. Until late in the spring, 
when a special censorship for the Commission members 
was arranged with the Germans, we received no letters 
or newspapers from any one outside of Belgium. We 
had no new books. We knew little about the progress of 
the war. Home was almost a myth. 

We patrolled the province in our automobiles; at- 
tended committee meetings there were one hundred and 
seventy of these meetings each week, so our range of 
choice was large ; carried on extensive correspondence 



in four languages ; compiled exhaustive reports on official 
matters, and held the scales of justice as level as we 
could in a country which reeled and slipped in the bloody 
path of war. 

Breathing spells were not many, and we sometimes 
longed for escape from Belgium as a convict longs to 
break prison. At last Mr. Hoover arranged a series 
of vacations for delegates, because the men could not 
stay long in the work and remain well in body and spirit. 

Crossing the border to Holland was like a spiritual ex- 
perience. The sudden sense of freedom was as strange 
and real as mountain air after a long stay in the city, and 
one's heart sang like a lark, merely to be quit of Bel- 
gium. On my first visit to Holland a crowd of Dutch 
children in a frontier village screamed at the motor-car 
and flung their caps under it, as children do the world 
over, except in Belgium. It was a bitter reminder 
of the repression and fear in the little land behind me; 
a fear and repression which affected even the casual 

For we had visitors in Antwerp journalists and 
others but these visitors invariably hurried over the 
border at the first opportunity. We laughed about it, 
but we understood. Belgium was like a military prison 
and an asylum for the insane, rolled into one. Always, 
just under the surface of life, one felt the tearless, voice- 
less, tragic resistance of an unconquerable people. 


Yet the camaraderie of the Commission supplied many 
lacks. When we spent the night in Brussels, Amos D. 
Johnson's house at 12 Galerie de Waterloo roared with 
our fun and the recitation of each others' Odysseys : how 
Bowdin and Gaylor refused to salute the German colonel 
at Longwy and how the colonel almost died of apoplexy 
in consequence; how Robinson Smith, translator of Don 
Quixote, gently but firmly refused a gold watch tendered 
him by the Provincial Committee of Hainaut, until the 
Committee had adopted his scheme of bread locaux com- 
munaux; how Carstairs was soon to marry a Belgian 
girl, and how other delegates were suspected of being 
matrimonially minded; how Curtis cursed the German 
sentry, never dreaming he knew English, and was 
answered in perfect Bostonese, " Same to you, old fel- 
low ! " ; how Senor Bulle burst into inextinguishable 
laughter at Hugh Gibson's telling of the soda-fountain 
joke; how somebody tried to ram a Zeppelin shed, and 
should have been shot in consequence; of Sperry's bon 
mot, "There isn't one of these foreign countries, but 
what, if you live in it long enough, it'll ' get your goat ' " ; 
of one of our fellow-citizens who said to Cardinal Mer- 
cier, "You're a Catholic, ain't you? ... Well, I'm 
a Presbyterian myself ; but I ain't got no prejudices " ; 
of tugs and lighters, calories, manquants, baches, af- 
fiches, rations, batelliers, connaissements, excedants, 
chemins de fer vidnaux, francs, marks, pounds sterling, 
and florins, the competence or incompetence of our 


respective chauffeurs and automobiles, and the greatness 
of Hoover. 

It was a time of joy and sorrow. Isolated and broken- 
hearted, the Belgians were starving for sympathy as well 
as for food. There was something almost ritualistic 
in the reiteration of their gratitude. Never once were 
they a nation of beggars receiving charity; they were 
self-respecting fellow-beings receiving merited help 
from friends. There was no mendicant whine in 
the words, " You have saved our lives. Without you, 
what would have become of us and our poor Belgium ? " 
They translated our flour and beans and bacon into 
brotherhood, human solidarity, and mutual helpfulness. 

These were the compensations. But the strain of the 
work endured. I used to go to the magnificent old 
Premonstratensian Abbey of Tongerloo to try to for- 
get everyday affairs. The avenues of venerable linden 
trees, the gaunt halls, the white-gowned canons and 
gray-gowned acolytes and novices, the sanctity and re- 
pose of the place, were irresistibly soothing. But I 
went to Tongerloo really to see Father Pat another 
name for Canon Patrick McGuire a wilderness of soft 
white beard with twinkling Irish eyes above it, nature's 
tonsure, and a smile like a saint's. Nine years Father 
Pat had spent on a mission in the Belgian Congo. " But 
you get nervous there," he said. " It's terrible nervous 
work, keeping all the blackies married to their own 


wives. You get them all straightened out, married off 
one by one, and then your boys go off with other boys' 
wives, and you have it all to do over again ! 

" Now we are here and you are here, working together 
for Belgium. God's blessing on America for this great 
work," he said, with the instinctive piety one met with so 
often in Belgium. " It would be a delight to the Ameri- 
cans to go round the little villages here about Tongerloo, 
and see every day how every child has his little bowl 
of soup and a little bit of bread, and no sickness, no 
starvation not yet, at any rate. If only you can keep 
it up; if only you can work, work, work until the war 
is over ! A bowl of soup and a bit of bread, and they'll 
all be alive when King Albert comes home." 

A pleasant feeling of the transitory nature of war al- 
ways came over me in Tongerloo. When the monks 
spoke of war they usually referred to the French Revolu- 
tion, because in the Revolution their monastery had been 
burned by the iconoclasts and the whole order had been 
exiled. In August, 1914, the Belgian Prince de Ligne 
was shot to death near Tongerloo in an armored motor- 
car; Norbertian monks had been heroic helpers when 
the villages in their neighborhood were sacked or burned ; 
but their minds lived in great leaps of time, in centuries 
instead of years, and one shared their immortality 
when one stopped in the cloisters of Tongerloo and 


It would be too long, though all too short a story, 
to tell of the hospitality and the idyllic hours at Hoog- 
boom, Cappellen, Calixberghe, Donck, Tongerloo, Aver- 
bode, Malines, Saint Leonarts, Tamise, and Braeschat, 
and the friends who opened their houses and hearts 
to " the Americans." Work pressed constantly to be 
done. The war could hardly be forgotten for a 
moment. The thunder of the guns was always in our 

One night at Hoogboom I ran out of the chateau for 
a lonely, happy, night walk. The cool spring air was 
marvelously clear and the new beech leaves were like 
lattice-work against the blue-black sky. Rhododendrons 
and azaleas were in blossom, hidden in the dusk like 
tropical birds. The thrilling smells of turned earth and 
young growing things were in my nostrils. A lake be- 
hind the castle lay mirror-still, and I stopped beside 
it, listening to the guns the everlasting guns. 

Seventy-five miles away, along the Yser, in the spring 
dusk, men were killing and being killed. Each ex- 
plosion could be heard : a toneless stab in one's head, not 
like a sound, but like a wound; a thrust that twisted 
and tortured into one's consciousness and could not be 

But from across the lake, from the depths of a little 
wood came a new sound. Cannon-thunder was a com- 
monplace to us. If nights were quiet we heard it even in 
the heart of a city like Antwerp; we heard it every Sun- 


day in the country. The new sound was a bird voice. 
The first nightingale of the year had begun to sing, 
clamorous and violent and glad. It rioted in music, 
and then at last the song sank gurgling into silence. 

And again came the remorseless drumming of the 
Yser guns. 



THE weekly meeting of the members of the National 
Relief Committee are held in Brussels in a beautiful 
parlor belonging to the Societe Generate de Belgique 
pour favoriser I'industrie nationale, at number 3 Mon- 
tagne du Pare a parlor all cream and gold, with an 
immense glass candelabrum hanging from the ceiling. 
Below is a T-shaped table covered with green baize. The 
baize is old and gray, and looks as if it might have a 
history. Tall, musical rosewood clocks stand on either 
side of the wide doors. There are large mirrors at 
the ends of the room, and white marble busts of King 
Albert and Queen Elizabeth coolly watch the proceed- 
ings. On the walls hang paintings of the two former 
Belgian kings: Leopold First in coronation dress; old 
Leopold Second in general's uniform with a double tier 
of orders showing under his white beard. 

There is a suggestion of the French Revolutionary 
period about the room. It is decorated in the style 
of the Empire, but one feels that avatars of sans- 



culottes may lurk behind the upholstered chairs, and 
that one breathes an atmosphere of conspiracy and sub- 
terranean activity. 

The members gather every Thursday. They are the 
notable citizens of Belgium. With one or two excep- 
tions there are no young men, and graybeards and bald 
pates are greatly in the majority. 

The meetings bring together a strange mixture of 
classes and physiognomies. Grouped about the long 
green table are Paul van Hoegaerden, the vigorous, 
vociferous president of the Liege Provincial Committee, 
with a trick of pulling at his collar as if its tightness im- 
peded the flow of his harsh, metallic words ; his able son 
Jacques, secretary of the Liege Committee, one of the 
few younger men in the National Committee ; statuesque 
Baron Albert d'Huart, president of the Namur Com- 
mittee; Fulgence Masson, vice-president of the Hainaut 
Committee, wise in counsel, quick in action, his round 
face humorous as a clown's; Louis Franck, president of 
the Antwerp Committee, like an etching by Felicien Rops, 
with black Assyrian beard and sparse hair, piercing eye 
and clean profile, always smiling his enigmatic, optimistic 
smile ; attenuated Count Jean de Merode, Grand Marshal 
of King Albert's Court, vice-president of the Provincial 
Committee of Brabant; gigantic Constant Heynderyckx, 
alderman of Ghent; small, pliant Jean de Hemptinne, 
also of Ghent; Georges Eeckhout, professor at Ghent 
University; the dark, foreign, languid figure of Raoul 


Warocque, Burgomaster of Morlanwelz, who lives at 
Mariemont with kangaroos and Buddhas; Emmanuel 
Janssen, head of the benevolent department for the 
whole country, gently smiling on all; modest Louis 
Solvay; the Michel Angelo profile of Michel Levie, 
president of the light railways of Belgium (la Societe 
Nationale des Chemins de fer vicinaux) ; Senator Em- 
manuel Tibbaut, head of the agricultural department; 
quiet, efficient Chevalier de Wouters d'Oplinter; and 
executive secretary F. van Bree, swarthy as the pirate 
Black Beard. 1 

Then there enters the crowded room the burly headed, 
heavy-set chairman of the Committee, Mr. Emile 
Francqui. He seats himself, raps on the table for 
quiet, and without waiting for it, begins to chant the order 
of the day, his heavy Bismarckian head sunk forward, 
his voice running like a millrace. 

"What time is it?" a Belgian friend asked Mr. 
Francqui near the end of an important business con- 

" Half-past three." 

" Francqui, let me see your watch ! " . . . 

" I knew," the friend explained, laughing, " that if 
Francqui were getting the better of me he would want 
to continue the discussion, so he would put the time 
about a quarter of an hour ahead. If he thought I was 

1 See Apendix XXI, page 348. 


getting the better of him, he would have told me it was 
half an hour later. So I asked to see his watch." . . . 

Mr. Francqui is a type familiar to Americans: a 
big-business man in the prime of life, self-made, brusque, 
bourgeois, sometimes intolerably rude, but always effi- 
cient, and the man of the hour in Belgian financial affairs. 
He resembles an American trust magnate, with more than 
a spice of Gallic salt in his composition. He has no small 
ambitions, no cheap ideas of glory, and no sentimentality 
or cant. As director of the Societe Generate de Belgique 
a great banking institution, founded in 1822 with an 
original capital of fifty million francs he is one of the 
foremost financial figures in Belgium, and his share in 
the inauguration of the work of the Commission and the 
National Relief Committee has placed in his hands the 
intricate operations of financing the Belgian committees. 
In the composition of the great financial groups which 
are the backbone of the National Committee, are Mr. 
Jean Jadot, governor of the Societe Generate, vice-presi- 
dent of the National Committee, Mr. L. van der Rest, 
vice-governor of the National Bank of Belgium and vice- 
president of the Committee, and Mr. Ernest Solvay, 
president of the famous Solvay Process Company and 
president of the Committee; but to Mr. Francqui has 
been left the active charge of the work of erecting a 
financial substructure for the whole organization of 

Great financiers are usually dictators, and Mr. Franc- 


qui is no exception to the rule. But the situation seems 
to call for a dictator. The weekly meetings of the Na- 
tional Committee are stage-plays purely. No Germans 
are present, but the sense of oppression is always there, 
and to break it the assembly seems to take on an attitude 
of mock-seriousness and to shoulder its deliberations 

So Mr. Francqui does his real work alone. The order 
of the day which he reads at each meeting so swiftly 
and so humorously, consists of information from the 
Commission for Relief in Belgium, instructions to the 
Provincial Committees, notifications of rules imposed 
through the Minister-patrons by the German authorities, 
arrivals in Rotterdam and shipments en route to the 
provinces, subsidies allowed to the various charitable de- 
partments of the committees, a financial statement for 
the week, and a report and instructions from the agri- 
cultural department. But the real work goes on behind 
the scenes, and the committeemen are not sorry to have 
it so. 


Belgian finance presents complex problems. A mora- 
torium was declared at the start of the war. The 
value of notes held by the National Bank and affected 
by the moratorium reached one thousand million francs. 
As late as April first, 1915, only about one-fourth of this 
sum, or two hundred and fifty million francs, ha'd been 


paid, and these by the more solvent or less affected 
debtors, among whom were many Belgian banks. 

On top of all this internal insolvency, the Germans on 
December tenth levied on Belgium a contribution of war 
of forty million francs per month. 1 

At the outbreak of the war Belgian currency had al- 
most disappeared. Many communes were so harassed 
that they issued emergency currency of their own, good 
only in the communal limits. At least seventy per cent 
of the important towns and villages of Belgium and 
northern France were forced to this expedient, and 
struck off on the municipal printing-presses " shin-plas- 
ter" bills for one franc, fifty centimes, twenty-five 
centimes, or ten centimes; and at least one of them, the 
commune of Saint Nicolas in East Flanders, struck a 
paper bill for five centimes about one cent in American 
money. These bills had nothing but the credit of the 
municipality to back them, and had no value outside of 
the commune issuing them. Three months after the end 
of the war, or on January first, 1915, they were pay- 
able at the municipal till. Of course they were valuable 
only for small retail trade. 

Such currency as reappeared after recovery from the 
first shock of terror at the beginning of the war, disap- 
peared again as the Germans overran Belgium. Silver 
and small nickel coins, along with the paper issued by 
the National Bank, were hidden away in safe places; 

1 See Appendix XXII, page 349. 


gold had been sent for safe keeping into Holland or 
England; and the National Bank of Belgium was thus 
in no position to carry on its normal function of regulat- 
ing the currency of the country, even if the Germans had 
been willing to allow it to do so. As it was, the military 
authorities took from the bank its privilege of issuing 
paper money, but in other respects interfered with the 
National Bank no more than with private institutions. 

Meanwhile German paper and nickel coins five mark, 
two mark, one mark bills, and pfennigs began to circu- 
late in Belgium, and the tradespeople were compelled by 
military proclamations to accept the money of the in- 
vaders at a fixed ratio to the Belgian franc. 

To meet the extraordinary situation of the national 
currency, the Societe Generate in March, 1915, six 
months after the outbreak of war, and with the sanction 
of the German authorities, resorted to what is probably 
an unparalleled financial device. It issued a paper cur- 
rency, backed solely by its private credit and the credit 
of its associated banks, redeemable three months after 
peace is signed by an equivalent bill of the Belgian Na- 
tional Bank; and this extraordinary currency was suc- 
cessfully circulated and bears a definite exchange ratio 
to the German mark and the Belgian franc formerly 
issued by the National Bank. 1 

1 To understand the situation one may imagine the United 
States of America blockaded on both oceans, with a Mexican army 
in charge of our financial affairs. In such a case, since the invaders 


The earlier bills of the Societe Generate, issued in 
March, 1915, bore the portrait of Queen Caroline, the 
wife of Leopold First. Later issues of bills bore the head 
of Rubens, and it was commonly believed in Belgium that 
this was because the Germans objected to the picture of 
a Belgian queen, even if that queen had been dead for 
half a century. 

With these financial steps the National Relief Com- 
mittee had nothing to do, but the steps themselves were 
very important in the relief work. In addition to the 
normal banking facilities, a considerable number of spe- 
cial " loan banks " had been organized at the outbreak 
of war. These banks now began making chattel loans, 
lending small sums, payable in the currency of the Societe 
Generale, on the security of personal property. At the 
same time, through the operations of the charitable de- 
partment of the Belgian National Committee, the flow 
of currency was aided by the payment of unemployment 
benefits, old age pensions, and wages for work provided 
by municipalities. 

Large sums were borrowed from the Societe Generate 
by the nine provinces, the loans being secured by notes 
backed by the credit of the province, as well as by the 
credit of the wealthier citizens. A singular commentary 

could not provide a currency for us, the Standard Oil Company or 
some other big institution might take over the issuance of bills and 
coin, pledging for their redemption its own financial credit. 


on the whole extraordinary situation is found in the fact 
that part, at least, of the eight million dollars a month 
which Germany has exacted from Belgium as a war 
contribution has been paid in the currency of the Societe 
Generate. 1 

1 See Appendix XXIII, page 349. 


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JULY 4, 1915. 

A Letter from Louis Franck Proposing to Make July Fourth a 
Belgian National Holiday. 

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ALTHOUGH the Americans in Belgium perform a 
variety of functions, they are there primarily for two 
purposes: to see that the Germans strictly observe the 
guarantee against requisitioning food supplies, and to see 
that every Belgian man, woman, and child receives his 
daily bread. 1 

Every Belgian more than two years old is entitled to 
two hundred and fifty grams of bread per day, and it 
is the business of the Commission to see that he gets it. 

This ration, which, I believe, is considered by experts 
to be extraordinarily low, was established at the beginning 
of our work by Dr. Hindhede, then at the Solvay So- 
ciological Institute in Brussels, and Horace Fletcher, 

1 During my year's service in Antwerp there was only one 
case in which German soldiers violated the guarantee's of pro- 
tection granted to Commission food. 

Two soldiers stopped a Belgian bread-cart and demanded 
bread. The delivery-boy stoutly refused. The soldiers then set 
upon him, grabbed two loaves out of the cart, threw at the boy 
the money for them, and set off at a run. 

Mr. Brand Whitlock writes : " I am glad to be able to say 
that there is not a single instance in which a pound of food sent 
under our guarantee has been touched by the German authorities." 



the American food expert and father of the verb " to 

Of the members of the Commission for Relief in Bel- 
gium Mr. Fletcher was dean, and he was one of our 
most loyal, most enthusiastic, and most inventive work- 
ers. He looked like an angelic boy, masquerading with 
white wool for hair and eyebrows. War found him 
studying at the Solvay Sociological Institute, but he vol- 
unteered at once to help in the relief work, and his tasks 
have been varied and important. For a while he was 
" official taster," and it is a tradition amongst us that he 
half poisoned himself, " trying out " gift goods sent into 
Belgium by kind America! He prepared a concise and 
interesting pamphlet on food values, containing delicious 
recipes for preparing American products till then un- 
known to the Belgians : " Susie's Spider Corn Cake,'* 
Bouillie de Mais Frites, ou Hominy Frit, Petit Pains 
Berkshire Muffins, and Petit Pains de Farine de 
Mais Indien d'Amerique, were some of the products of 
his skill. This pamphlet, in French and Flemish, was 
spread broadcast, so that the American delegates and 
Belgian committeemen spoke of " calories " with the 
same easy familiarity that they had acquired with " bills 
of lading," " excesses," and " under-weights." 

At first some of our imports of high nutritive value 
were almost useless to the Belgians. I do not refer to 
delicacies such as sweet potatoes, maple syrup, and real 


Southern hominy, but such standard products as corn- 
meal and oatmeal. Large quantities of both had been 
given by generous Canadians and Americans. The 
State of Iowa contributed a ship-load of corn. But 
very few Belgians knew how to cook our national foods; 
the Flemish peasants wished to use some of the choicest 
of them as feed for chickens, so we had hastily to or- 
ganize committees to begin a propaganda. Teachers 
of domestic science from the city of Antwerp went 
through the villages, lecturing before the peasants and 
showing them how corn-meal should be cooked. The 
prejudice against maize products as human food was 
so strong, however, that our wares had to be rechristened, 
and thus our good old-fashioned American corn-meal 
and hominy were baptized " cerealine " and " idealine," 
and other alien and presumably appetizing names. 

By Belgian rules of bread-making one hundred and 
ninety grams of flour will make two hundred and fifty 
grams of bread. In February, 1915, the ration was 
raised to two hundred and fifty grams of flour about 
three hundred and twenty-five grams of bread and 
maintained on that basis except when failing supplies 
cut the proportions. 

Such a simple-looking mathematical rule for rationing 
would seem to need no qualification, but only those who 
have attempted to administer with the wisdom of Solo- 
mon a trust like ours can understand the difficulties which 


arose. There were probably many peasants in the Cam- 
pine who had small stores of rye flour which they could 
mix with the American wheat flour, whereas the unem- 
ployed workmen of the towns and cities had no re- 
sources of any sort. Should we, then, discriminate 
against the peasants? . . . The diet of bread for those 
confined in prisons, hospitals, penal colonies, and asylums 
is normally very large. Should we cut these rations to 
our rule? . . . What about growing children in or- 
phanages? . . . What about patients in hospitals, or 
those being cared for at home? . . . Should all these 
exceptional classes of persons be fed on gray war bread, 
and should they receive only two hundred and fifty grams 
per day, like everybody else? 

A most picturesque plea came from a quarter where 
Americans would never expect it. We were urged to 
provide dog-bread! The Belgian dog le Men de trait 
is a proletarian, not a parlor ornament, and is worthy 
of his hire. Meat is always costly, so he is practically a 
vegetarian, and his diet must be carefully looked after. 
Bread is his staple food. . . . Dogs are absolutely neces- 
sary to the peasants, and strange as the request seemed 
at first, we finally, after careful study, decided to provide 
a cheap bread for them. 

Perhaps the most striking plea for exceptional treat- 
ment was made by the director of a large Belgian 
asylum. He assured us that the health and morale of his 
institution depended upon an unusually large ration of 


bread, because, if the diet of the insane were restricted, 
uproars and disorders would begin. 

With the approval of the Brussels office we ruled 
that the ration of bread must stand uniform throughout 
the province, but that if in specific cases bread could 
be proved a medicine, then, on a doctor's certificate, we 
would allow a larger portion. 

At one time we received complaints about the quality 
of bread served in a city prison, and W. W. Strat- 
ton went down to investigate. The manager of the 
prison flatly contradicted all unfavorable reports, and ex- 
plained to Stratton, with a wealth of detail, how fine 
the bread really was. 

" How much bread do you give your prisoners now, 
Monsieur le Directeur?" asked Stratton. 

" How much now ? the same as always. And such 
good bread, monsieur ! " 

" Tiens! And is the quality of the bread the same as 

" But yes, monsieur." 

"Oh, la, la, la, la! Monsieur le Directeur, then it 
is bad, very bad, most bad ; it cannot be worse. It cannot 
be eaten, or digested ! " Stratton shrugged his shoulders 
despairingly, as if there were no more words to express 
the iniquity of the prison bread. 

" But, monsieur ! " screamed the unfortunate manager. 
" How can you know that ? " 

" How can I know, monsieur? Attend! I have been 


your guest. In December I was a prisoner in this very 
prison ! " 


" I ! The Germans did not like me, maybe. I had 
just come into Belgium. They arrested me; they gave 
me to you; you placed me in one of your choicest 
cells, n'est-ce pas? I spent a day under your hospitable 
roof. But you have forgotten, monsieur ? Comme c'est 
triste; c'est triste, n'est-ce pas? " . . . 

There was a very rapid improvement in the quality of 
the prison fare. 

The supply of white flour was strictly limited, so the 
Commission imported wheat and milled it in Belgium. 
This wheat, whether from North or South America, was 
milled at ninety per cent ; in other words, it contained all 
the bran except ten per cent. Such milling was a measure 
of economy, for only the greatest care enabled us to give 
the necessary ration of two hundred and fifty grams of 
bread, and in many of the provinces ten per cent or fif- 
teen per cent of corn-meal was added to the gray flour, 
reducing the cost by about ten francs per hundred kilo- 
grams, and enabling the committees to maintain the price 
of bread at a minimum. Mills existed in each of the prov- 
inces. Ten were employed in the province of Antwerp 
alone. These were all under the management of the Com- 
mission delegates and the Belgian committees, and were 
required by the terms of their contracts to return 'to the 


committees every product and by-product of the milling 
operations. The mills were also considered Commission 
warehouses, under the protection of the American flag, 
and deliveries to the communes were made direct from 

Thanks to our regulations, the price of bread, white or 
gray, was always lower in Belgium than in London, 
Paris, Rotterdam, or New York. 1 


Whenever we dealt directly with the Belgian people 
all went well; when we dealt with middlemen there was 
apt to be trouble. This was particularly true in the dis- 
tribution of flour. In the country districts and smaller 
towns where the people did their own baking, we dis- 
tributed flour directly to the consumers: in cities, on 
the other hand, we delivered flour to the bakers, who 
then supplied their customers with Commission bread. 2 

There is a Bible story which I now read with satisfac- 
tion unknown to me before my stay in Belgium. It 

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was 
good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and 
behold, I had three white baskets on my head: 

And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of 

1 See Appendix XXIV, page 351. 
'See Appendix XXV, page 352. 


bake-meats for Pharaoh ; and the birds did eat them out of 
the basket upon my head. 

And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpreta- 
tion thereof : The three baskets are three days : 

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head 
from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree ; and the birds 
shall eat thy flesh from off thee. 

And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's 
birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants . . . 

But he hanged the chief baker : as Joseph had interpreted 
to them. 

At one time we needed a despot like Pharaoh to deal 
with the Antwerp bakers, although as a rule we were 
not gentle toward offenders. In the case in question, 
however, the offenders were all the bakers of Antwerp, 
and retaliatory measures were crushed by sheer weight 
of their numbers. 

To insure honest bread at honest weight and an honest 
per capita distribution, the Commission began to card- 
index all consumers in Belgium. Theretofore in Ant- 
werp proper we had estimated requirements on the basis 
of what we knew to be the whole population of the city. 
Dividing that population among the big and little baker- 
ies, we had a rough-and-ready method for distribution, 
and we closely followed up complaints from the ultimate 

Card-indexing is slow but sure. Before the end of the 
investigations I called for a progress report. 

"Twelve bakers* lists are complete out of one hun- 


dred and eighty-five bakeries and forty-six pastry 

"What do they show?" 

" Every one of them is fraudulent. They've padded 
their lists of customers given names of refugees who 
are in Holland or England, or purely fictitious names. 
And we've been furnishing them with flour for three 
weeks on a basis of lies ! It makes me sick." 

" What do you want to do ? Fine them ? " 

" We've done it : that is, I've insisted on fining the 
biggest baker in the lot, but the Belgian committeemen 

"Why do they object?" 

" They say all the hundred and eighty-five lists are 
padded, and they think it's too hard on that one to fine 
him alone ! " 

In times of discouragement like these our only com- 
fort was the positive knowledge that in spite of petty 
fraud, every Belgian was being fed, and second, that 
Provincial Committeeman J. G. Delannoy would person- 
ally assault the baker who had offended. 

In a long ministerial frock coat and tall collar, buzz- 
ing through his teeth the tune of the Socialist Interna- 
tionale, Mr. Delannoy would burst into the Commission 
offices, roaring greetings right and left, smacking the 
desks with his great hands, conquering ears and hearts 
by his onslaught, and speaking an extraordinary mixture 


of English, French, and Flemish a strong, meaty pot- 
pourri of languages. 

He was one of the most valued members of the 
Provincial Committee, respected and admired, even by 
his political enemies; a man of little fear and no favor, 
with a penchant for strong-arm methods. 

" Look here, Mr. Delannoy ! Stop that kolome- 
Vendome-verdoeme anecdote a moment and listen to 
this. We're going to fine Ixe for fraud." 

" Mynheer 'Unt, I will explicate. It is the charAKter 
of the Flemish pupils (people) to make fraudeur 

" Let's not discuss Flemish character." 

" No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no ! Listen. I, Delannoy, 
moi, je, ik, I have make fraud not now, nr>! but in 
peace. I make fraud by the Garde Civique Civil 
Guard militia ! You know what is the Garde Civique? " 

" Yes. It is like our National Guard." 

" Eh bien! I desert, I skip drill, I make fraud." 

" The deuce ! You're one of the * straightest ' men I 
ever met." 

" But no. I make fraud by the Garde Civique. It is 
the charAKter of the pupils. Like you Americans; you 
pay not the customs moneys in New York; isn't it? " 

A long silence ! 

" It is the charAKter of the Flemish pupils ; always 
they make fraudeur. But, Mynheer 'Unt, I will see 
Ixe ; n'est-ce pas? " 


" Deal gently with him, for Heaven's sake. Don't 
massacre him. We don't love him, but we don't want 
him killed." 

" I will kick him down the stair." 

The splendid gifts of white flour from America were 
reserved for hospitals and asylums, but enough remained 
for us to give the whole province an occasional week 
of white flour, to break the monotony of the gray. 
These occasions were dubbed " joyous entries " by Mr. 

" They eat always with the eyes, the Flemish pupils, 
Mynheer 'Unt. Us mangent ton jours avec les yeux; 
vous comprenez? You know what is to ' eat with the 
eyes ' ? The Flemish pupils look, look first. Then they 
eat. La farine grise, it is joost so good as the white 
flour; mais, c'est gris; ce n'est pas blanc. En fin! 
The Flemish pupils make always kermis picnic, good 
time for de witte bloem white flour. C'est une 
' joyeuse entree' n'est ce pas, Monsieur 'Unt? You 
know what is a 'joyeuse entree'? I will explicate." 
And with gusts of laughter he explained the tre- 
mendous welcome which always greeted the first offi- 
cial visit of a sovereign monarch to medieval Ant- 
werp; called, by the old chroniclers, the "joyous 

" It is the ' joyeuse entree ' of Emperoor White-Bread, 
n'est-ce pas, Monsieur 'Unt?" 


Not the character of the Flemish, but war-time condi- 
tions were at fault. The Commission had established a 
partial monopoly of flour, without at the same time 
establishing a monopoly of baking. The bakers were in 
keen competition with each other, under conditions of 
terrible strain. Many of them were delivering bread to 
clients who could no longer pay, and the Commission all 
the while was paring off the profit on bread-making to 
keep the price as low as possible for the ultimate con- 
sumers. At the same time the Dutch were smuggling 
flour and bread over the Belgian border, and, although its 
operations were not great, there was a legitimate com- 
mittee (le comite limitrophe), formed under the patron- 
age of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and the chairman- 
ship of a Dutch member of Parliament, to restore petty 
commerce between the Dutch and Belgian border com- 

On recommendation of the chairman of the committee, 
a Mr. Fleskens, the Dutch Minister of Commerce and 
Labor issued permits of exportation to proper persons. 
The committee made no profits for itself, but the trans- 
action was wholly commercial, since no attention was 
paid to the needs of the destitute in Belgium. The most 
important article in this petty commerce was white bread 
baked in Holland and sent into Belgium for immediate 
consumption. There was nothing to prevent the Ger- 
mans seizing such bread if they liked. The complica- 


tions arising from such transactions in the midst of a 
work like ours are obvious. 

Commerce with Holland was not an easy thing. Few 
could run the border without collusion with the German 
sentries. Double lanes of barbed-wire stretched from the 
North Sea almost to Aix-la-Chapelle, in Germany, and 
these lanes were guarded by mounted patrols. The 
geographical frontier is tortuous and not easily watched. 
The first barrier, therefore, was a simple barbed-wire 
fence. But well within the Belgian border was a second 
line. Two closely knit, wickedly barbed fences, about 
eight feet apart, were reinforced by a third barrier 
which consisted of strands of wire electrically charged 
with a high current and strung on posts some seven feet 
high. Except at the highways, which were closely 
guarded, this formidable barrier was continuous, and 
land mines reinforced the barbed-wire lanes at several 

Yet some daring individuals managed to get through. 
Barrels with men inside could be worked through the 
wires, and step-ladders or vaulting poles were used to 
surmount the entanglements, but the commonest way 
seemed to be to sneak down the river courses or through 
the swamps, and chance a drowning or the bullet from a 
sentry's rifle. 

Commerce under such conditions was romantic rather 
than profitable. 



One difficulty we encountered in our conflict with the 
bakers was lack of support on the part of the committee- 
men of the arrondissement of Antwerp. There was a 
reason for this. Many of them felt that the war would 
shortly be over and that a makeshift organization 
was sufficient for the interim. To some of our best 
friends we must have seemed incorrigible pessimists 
in our everlasting insistence on a permanent relief 

Once when Stratton, as arrondissement delegate for 
Antwerp, disagreed with his Belgian committee, the com- 
mittee suggested that we appeal the case to the head- 
quarters of the Commission in Brussels. To this I 
gladly assented, and the committee, including Stratton, 
took the next train. 

They returned in a day or two, well satisfied. The 
Brussels director had ruled in accordance with our 
wishes, and the Belgian committee was now unanimous 
for war on the wicked. 

" Monsieur le Directeur Crosby agrees with Monsieur 
Hunt and Monsieur Stratton. It is all arranged. We 
will fine that bad baker five thousand francs and sus- 
pend his flour for two weeks." 

Stratton winked at me broadly over the head of the 
speaker. " All is arranged/* he echoed. 

" But how did you do it ? " I asked, when the com- 


mitteemen had gone. " The courier was in town today, 
and he says Mr. Crosby is in the north of France." 

" He is. But it seemed too bad to spoil our visit to 
Brussels just for that, so I talked it all over with some- 
body in the Brussels office and brought him in to talk to 
the committee." 

" You did not introduce him as Mr. Crosby ! " 
" Of course I'll answer if you insist." . . . Stratton 
whistled a bar of the Brabangonne. ..." But what's 
a name between friends?" 

In pleasing contrast to the unsatisfactory state of the 
distribution of flour to the bakers was the distribution 
of bread and soup to the poor from the Antwerp soup 
kitchens. Since the beginning of the war the number 
of bread lines and soup kitchens in the greater city had 
grown to fifteen. In December, 1914, at one station 
several men in a single week fainted from hunger; but 
that never afterwards occurred, although we were feed- 
ing more than thirty-five thousand daily. At least ten 
times during the period from December first to mid- 
January there were days when soup could be had but 
no bread, although the universal rule of the Commission 
was first to care for the destitute of all classes. 

The ration of soup and bread given at the kitchens 
cost from ten to twelve centimes per day per person, and 
was of excellent quality. Every person brought his own 
spoon, and might carry his bread home to eat there if 


he wished. Ten of the soup kitchens were in school- 
houses. Before the war the Antwerp schools were 
equipped to feed a hot soup at mid-day to such of their 
pupils as needed it, so that a part of the necessary equip- 
ment was at hand, and the municipality furnished extra 
boilers and other utensils. 1 

There were four standard varieties of soups pea, 
bean, vegetable, and bouillon but variations in the 
amount of rice which might be added gave practically a 
new soup for each day. 

Every person carried a card, stamped with the name 
of the soup station and the name of the bearer, with 
blank spaces where the dates of deliveries of soup might 
be indicated. The kitchens were open only between 
11.30 A. M. and 1.15 P. M. They often opened with 
grace, spoken by a priest. 

Discipline was strict, and the people were remarkably 
clean. They might be poor and hungry, but they were 
never dirty. The loathsome filth one might expect was 
not to be seen in Belgium, and this striking evidence of 
self-respect was the more noteworthy because soap never 
is furnished gratis to the Belgian poor. 

The cleanliness of the kitchens, too, was admirable, in 
spite of the frequent rainy weather and the relays of 
people. The workers in the kitchens were almost all of 
them volunteers, among them men and women teachers, 
nuns, and priests. Every one had work assigned 

1 See Appendix XXVI, page 353. 


him: peeling potatoes, serving food, or supervising 

At the suggestion of the Commission, a more careful 
system of identification cards was installed in the soup 
stations, and their administrators became a part of our 
local Antwerp organization. 

There were three milk kitchens and three baby clinics 
maintained in Antwerp by volunteers. Before the war 
about thirty-five out of every forty mothers nursed their 
babies. Some idea of the prevalent demoralization may 
be gathered from the fact that four months after the 
fall of Antwerp hardly five out of forty mothers were 
able to do so. 

Economic restaurants were available for those whose 
means allowed a payment of part but not the 
full price for food. Three such restaurants were 
founded in Antwerp, and for fifty centimes or less a 
good meal was provided in dining-rooms which had 
none of the barrack-room air of bread line and soup 
kitchen. Wherever a Belgian had money he paid for 
his food ; but the Commission served rich and poor alike. 1 


Belgium needed far more than bread. Thousands had 
neither clothes nor dwellings ; millions had no work ; peo- 
ple of all classes were cold and idle and ill. The task 

1 See Appendix XXVII, page 354, and Appendix XXVIII, page 


of the Commission for Relief in Belgium could not long 
remain a simple doling out of rations, for food was al- 
most useless without other things as well clothing, fuel, 
dwelling houses, money, and good health. 

Typhoid and black measles were the first epidemics re- 
ported. In the neighborhood of Willebroeck a town of 
twelve thousand inhabitants, where dykes had been cut 
and the district inundated in a vain effort to keep the 
Germans out of Antwerp seventy-five cases of typhoid 
were known and others were suspected. 

Ernest P. Bicknell, director of civilian relief for the 
American Red Cross, Henry James, Jr., and Dr. 
Wy cliff e Rose, all representing the Rockefeller Founda- 
tion of New York, visited Belgium in December and 
prepared a report on conditions in typical communes. 
Before January first, 1915, the Rockefeller Foundation 
contributed almost a million dollars to the work of Bel- 
gian relief, and established a station in Rotterdam called 
the Rockefeller Foundation War Relief Commission, 
to assist the Commission for Relief in Belgium. This 
station had charge of the sorting and shipping of clothes 
sent from America for Belgium, and among its volunteer 
workers were two American women, Dr. Caroline 
Hedger and Miss Janet A. Hall, who had served 
on the Chicago Health Department and were in 
Holland as representatives of the Chicago Woman's 
Club. At my request these ladies came to the province 
of Antwerp as volunteer health officers. 


The winter was cold and damp as an icy sponge, but 
Dr. Hedger and Miss Hall set out at once, with a supply 
of their own vaccine, for the scene of the most impor- 
tant epidemic. At Willebroeck they lived for two 
weeks in a tiny suite of rooms over a Flemish estaminet, 
were mould was so thick on the walls that one could 
scrape it off with one's fingers. In two weeks' time they 
never once were thoroughly warm, although they were 
admirably dressed ; yet Belgians lived through the winter 
clad only in cotton and wearing carpet-slippers. 

The two devoted women went into every house where 
a typhoid case was known or suspected. A typical visit 
was to the village of Sauvegard where they found every 
one of seven members of the van der Zeippen family ill 
or convalescent from typhoid. As Dr. Hedger tells it, 
"Their house had been destroyed and they had lost all 
their farm possessions but one cow. They were living 
in one side of a dirt-floored barn that belonged to some 
friend, and some one else had given them a bed. But 
why this family was living at all, I do not know. They 
had rushed away ahead of the Germans with one hun- 
dred and eighty Belgian soldiers at the time of the re- 
treat toward Antwerp , and of the one hundred and 
eighty soldiers only twenty got out alive. Yet this 
family had come out intact, and survived typhoid fever 
after that. There were tears in the eyes of that mother 
almost the only weeping we saw in Belgium." 

Strangely enough, they found all the recent cases were 


traceable, not to the inundations, but to the congested 
refugee camps in Holland, especially those in Flushing. 
It was a sad commentary on the generosity of the Dutch 
that their Belgian barracks actually spread disease among 
the inmates. But it was reassuring to find that we had 
practically no native epidemics near Willebroeck. This 
was due in part to the able work of local Belgian 
physicians, for the German military doctors did not take 
care of Belgian civilians. 

In addition to tracing the source of the Willebroeck 
infection and inoculating the people against typhoid, 
Dr. Hedger and Miss Hall presented to the Commission 
about three thousand dollars' worth of anti-typhoid vac- 
cine, originally the gift of Dr. Mary T. Lincoln of the 
Chicago Woman's Club, and with this we stamped out 
the cases of typhoid in other centers of infection. 

Dr. Hedger's own words should tell of the conclusion 
of her stay in Willebroeck. 

"We were invited to a Sunday dinner at the house 
of the acting-Burgomaster, Dr. Persoons. All the blinds 
were down, so we ate by artificial light. It was a small 
and simple party. Each gentleman had an American 
button in the lapel of his coat, and the ladies wore the 
Belgian and American colors. After dinner we were in- 
vited into the parlor for coffee, as the custom is, and 
there, hung from the ceiling, was a great silk American 


flag, with President Wilson's picture on the wall beneath 
it. How they got this flag and picture in that little town 
I do not know, but there they were! 

" As soon as we had had our coffee, the door into the 
hall opened, and there came in a procession headed by 
four little children, two boys and two girls; two carry- 
ing flowers in their hands, and two with their silk school- 
flags their Belgian flags. Then I understood why the 
blinds had been drawn. Belgians are not allowed to dis- 
play their flag in public in any way, so they had been 
obliged to bring them in in the night. 

" The little children advanced and read a Flemish ad- 
dress, thanking America for the Christmas Ship and pre- 
senting us with their flowers. I replied through the in- 
terpreter, and supposed that was all. But the children 
fell back after presenting the flowers, and then the 
secretary of the Town Council read a letter of thanks 
that was one of the most exquisite bits of English I 
ever heard. It was not absolutely neutral, so you will 
have to wait until the war is over before you can get the 
exact wording of those thanks. After this reading wine 
was brought, and each gentleman came forward, touched 
glasses, bowed, and gave his thanks individually to 
America. . . . They apologized because those beauti- 
fully arranged flowers were artificial. They said their 
greenhouses had all been broken in the bombardment, and 
they could not express in beautiful flowers, as they might 
do in days of peace, their gratitude to America." 


In the work at Willebroeck Dr. Hedger and Miss Hall 
came into intimate contact with all the needs of the peo- 
ple. The lack of proper clothing, for example, was pitia- 
ble. For three months some of the children of Wille- 
broeck had stayed away from school, literally because 
they had no clothing to go in. In every household the 
brightest child was selected to wear what clothes were 
available. Little boys appeared in their sisters' dresses 
and little girls in boy's clothes. 

This situation was a commonplace. Appeals for 
clothing came to Antwerp from all parts of the province. 
The war had come at harvest time, when clothes are a 
secondary consideration, and the people had never had 
an opportunity to provide themselves for the winter. 
We never had enough to supply them. It was only when 
the generous gifts of clothing began to come from 
America through the Rockefeller Foundation War Re- 
lief Commission, that the situation improved at all. 1 

Temporary houses, too, had to be constructed for the 
returning refugees and the peasants in the ruined vil- 
lages. The building of these was one of the most inter- 
esting and able works of our excellent Belgian com- 
mittees. 2 

1 See Appendix XXIX, page 357. 
8 See Appendix XXX, age 359. 

Abri co Meet if pour quatre menages. (Ouvriers). 

1 8 a 24 personnel (8 ft 1 2 (its) 4 i 8 tetes de twtall. 
1 Composition par abri. Habitation. 

Au rez-de-chaussee , . 
Al'etage . , . . 

I Cuisine . . .. 3,50 a 4,00 X 5,40 ffl. 
I Chambre a couchor . . 2,40 x 2,50 
, . . Grenier. , , Memes dimensions 
Etable *<,..,.... 2.50 x 1,65 
2* Surface batie pour le grouj-e. 

4 habitations. 20,60 x 5,80 m. = 119.48 in"- c'* 
4 ctables . , 5,50 X 3,60 in. 19.80 



Sf DevJs pour le gronpft 

Chan* Fr. 90. 

Bois (charpentel , A . - 700. 

Portes et fehetres . , . . 245. 

Carton bitumc . . , * * a: 85. 

Vitrerie et peinture ... 65. 

Averages. ,...., ' 36*. 

Materiauz * Pavement monoli the en ciment 36. 
Cuves en ciment pour fosse 

d'aisance et puits. . . 81. 

Pate de papier et Fmprevu* - '60 

Intervention totile du Co m i if Provincial Fr. 1398. 
Briquesdo reinploi fournies par !a 

commune. Evaluces a Fr. 250. 

Main-d'ceuvre tchomeurs) ..*,.... 350. 

Total par groupe Fr.1998. 

4 Prix par metre carre de surface batie Fr. 14.35 
par tete d'habitant j P<>r 16 peraounes .,,... . 125.- 




+~t*3.n. =^A7tfcrrti 

Arch. Bergtr. 




Normally 1,757,489 persons are engaged in Belgian 
commerce and industry, and the state of many of these 
was desperate. In January, 1915, Mr. Michel Levie, 
president of the Board of Directors of the National As- 
sociation of Light Railways, drew up for the National 
Committee an extensive plan for unemployment relief. 
Excluding agricultural laborers, the entire body of 
artisans and employees of industry and commerce of 
both sexes, more than sixteen years old, who, living on 
the product of their work, had been deprived of this 
work because of the war, and who were actually at the 
moment in want, were embraced in the plan. These 
chomeurs, as the unemployed are called in French, were 
to be utilized by the communal organizations in public 
works, such as draining, ditching, constructing embank- 
ments, and building sewers. The communal authorities 
having such employment in charge were especially rec- 
ommended to work through the Labor Exchanges, Un- 
employment Benefit Associations, Trades Unions, and 
other similar bodies. The relief was to be distributed 
in food or other supplies, in money, or in the form of 
relief coupons or salary checks. 

To carry out this plan the National Committee, 
through the Provincial Committees, subsidized the com- 
munal organizations up to nine-tenths of the assistance 


to be allowed to the unemployed, the commune to 
furnish the other one-tenth. 

The basis was interesting. If the unemployed were a 
bachelor, he received three francs per week; if the head 
of a family, three francs for himself, plus one and one- 
half francs for his wife or housekeeper, and fifty cen- 
times for each child less than sixteen years old, living 
with the parents and not working. A woman in industry 
received the same sum as a man. 

The communes were obliged to furnish to the Provin- 
cial Committees, for transmission to the National Com- 
mittee, certified lists of their unemployed, and rigid rules 
with frequent examinations of the lists were provided 
to prevent frauds. Invalids, the infirm, victims of acci- 
dents who were receiving other assistance, wives and 
children benefiting by the relief allowed to families 
of soldiers, or men without employment who refused 
to accept the work provided for them by the com- 
munes, were excluded from the lists of chomeurs. 

The first enrolment of the classified unemployed in 
Belgium amounted to more than seven hundred and sixty 
thousand names. Including those dependent upon them 
the number was one million three hundred and forty- 
seven thousand nine hundred and twenty-two persons. 
In the province of Antwerp out of a total population 
of one million eighty-seven thousand five hundred the 
number of unemployed was two hundred and thirteen 


thousand three hundred and ninety-seven, and this 
number steadily increased. 1 

The first purpose of unemployment relief was to pro- 
vide a certain minimum of assistance which would 
include food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and other things 
necessary to maintain the family life of the workers. 
Its second purpose was to provide employment, and 
so to combat the growing demoralization of the coun- 
try. From an administrative point of view, however, 
it brought complications. 

Up to this time the Germans had secured a certain 
amount of labor from the Belgians, and would probably 
have secured more had the unemployment relief re- 
mained unorganized. They could of course provide em- 
ployment for only a few classes of Belgian workmen, 
but the system of communal relief for the unemployed 
practically closed all doors against them. Thereafter 
Belgians could work without working for the Germans. 

The Commission was thoroughly alive to the danger. 
The plan of relief for the unemployed was a Belgian 
plan, the administrators were Belgians, and the recipi- 
ents of course were Belgians. We were neutrals; Bel- 
gians were belligerents. We needed constantly to be on 
our guard against unscrupulous patriots who might use 
us to club the Germans. From Minister Brand Whit- 

1 See Appendix XXXI, page 361, and Appendix XXXII, page 


lock down to the humblest worker in the Commission, 
we were overwhelmed with appeals for protection which 
we had no right to hear and with which we had 
no power to deal. This was awkward for the Commis- 
sion and irritating to the Germans. Neither we nor the 
Belgians were wholly to blame, but the situation did not 
flatter German pride and undoubtedly aroused their suspi- 

In the plans for chomeur relief, then, the Commission 
was not involved, but as a matter of administrative fact 
the Commission and the National Relief Committee 
were married partners, and neither could act without in- 
volving the other. 



A CHANGE had come about in the attitude of the Ger- 
man authorities toward the Commission for Relief in 
Belgium and the National Committee. The Germans, 
like every one else, had expected a short war. Belgian 
relief was a temporary measure. But with every month 
of lengthened warfare the work of relief and the work of 
government in Belgium became more definite and inclu- 
sive and the occasions for misunderstandings increased. 

On October sixteenth, 1914, Governor-General von 
de Goltz had written with the utmost cordiality to 
the Central Relief Committee. " I approve with lively 
satisfaction the work of the Central Relief Committee," 
his letter runs, " and I do not hesitate formally and ex- 
pressly to give by this letter assurance that foodstuffs 
of all sorts imported by the Committee to feed the civil 
population are reserved exclusively for the needs of the 
population of Belgium, that consequently these food- 
stuffs are exempt from requisition on the part of the mili- 
tary authorities, and that they remain exclusively at the 
disposition of the Committee." Eight months later, on 



June twenty-sixth, 1915, Governor-General von Bissing 
wrote to the Minister-patrons of the Committee in a very 
different strain. " Having myself made an estimate of 
the damages occasioned by the war/' announced the 
Governor-General, "no inquiries on the subject of 
requisitions by the German troops will be permitted. 

" The inspectors of the committees and the Commission 
for Relief in Belgium have the right to make statements 
of abuses committed by millers, and so forth, but their 
right is confined to making these statements. It is then 
permitted them to communicate to the competent authori- 
ties (the German Government), with a request to them 
to give the complaints the attention they deserve." 

Until July the committees and the Commission 
had punished infractions of rules either by fining the re- 
calcitrants or withdrawing supplies for brief periods. If 
a baker gave short weight or bad bread and was con- 
victed of it, we were able either to drive him out of 
business or to put him in a temper to play fair with us 
in future. The two or three instances of communes 
where burgomasters or other officers were unfair, who 
exploited either the money or the food which we gave 
them, were met in a similar way. Now, on proclamation 
of the Governor-General, this power was taken from us, 
and we were reduced to the slow processes of Belgian law 
under the auspices of the German military authorities. 

Such a restriction was inevitable in time. But the 
temper, if not the ruling itself, seemed hostile: The 


first evidences of German irritation had been shown 
long before. Officers in Pass Bureaus and at sentry- 
posts argued with the Commission delegates the morality 
of American shipments of arms to the Allies. Our 
monthly passes for automobiles became more difficult to 
get. Twice or thrice we were forced to lie idle for a 
day or two on account of the failure of Pass Bureaus 
to provide our passes promptly. 

The inexhaustible kindness which the Belgians showed 
us seemed to irritate some of the Germans. On one oc- 
casion Provincial Committeeman Delannoy applied to 
General von Bodenhausen, Governor of the city of 
Antwerp, for permission to show (t les americains " 
through the vast sewer system underlying the streets -a 
system comparable to the Parisian system described by 
Victor Hugo in Les Miserables. 

" Permission to boat through the passageways to show 
the Americans the sewers of Antwerp?" 

" Yes, General." 

" Certainly not. I will do nothing for the Americans." 

Next the authorities objected to the American flag on 
automobiles and warehouses of the Commission. Ger- 
man officers stopped Commission cars and warned us 
that there was but one flag in Belgium and that was the 
German flag. We had flown our flag over our ware- 
houses and storehouses in every city and village in Bel- 
gium. It gave the Belgian people a feeling of security 


to see the stars-and-stripes in their midst. It made them 
feel that the weight of the United States was behind their 
bread supply. 

At least one German officer, Major-General von Long- 
champ, stationed at Namur, was a pleasant exception to 
the circle of objectors. He insisted that the delegates 
fly the flag on their automobiles, and suggested that 
they wear American rosettes in their buttonholes, " Be- 
cause," he said, " it makes the Belgian people more 
confident and happy." 

But the American Minister did not see things as we 
did. He dreaded hostile demonstrations and deprecated 
any use of the American flag by the Belgians. At last 
he ordered us to remove the flag from our automobiles. 
He then negotiated with the Governor-General who de- 
creed that the Commission must haul down the flag from 
all warehouses except the principal warehouse in cities 
where a German Governor had his residence, and that 
we might hoist in the Flemish provinces a white ensign 
on which was lettered, " Nationaal Hulp- en Voedings- 
Komiteit" and in the French-speaking provinces, 
" Comite National de Secours et d" Alimentation " 


The Governor-General specifically took from the 
benevolent department of the National Relief Com- 
mittee privileges which it had hitherto exercised such 
as the use of the Commission courier service and the 


transmission of uncensored instructions to the communal 
organizations and abrogated its right to discipline its 
agents. In cases of fraud the committees were in- 
structed to appeal either to local Belgian police courts, 
whose decisions were subject to military review, or to 
the German Civil Government. 

In his letter of June twenty-sixth to the Minister- 
patrons the Governor-General included this ominous 
paragraph : " All tendency on the part of the National 
Committee to monopolize the distribution of charitable 
assistance in Belgium must be stopped. The principle 
must be maintained that all other charitable organiza- 
tions, above all, the Belgian Red Cross, have the right 
to act side by side with, and outside of, the National 

The National Relief Committee had never claimed, 
nor could it claim, a monopoly of Belgian relief work. 
Its policy was federal, not monopolistic. Its aim was re- 
lief in Belgium and nothing else. Scores of existing re- 
lief organizations had been patronized and subsidized by 
the Committee, but all were engaged in work which was 
humanitarian and at bottom neutral. Any other basis 
was impossible. Mr. Brand Whitlock, the Marquis of 
Villalobar, and their colleague and new Minister-patron, 
Jonkheer de Weede, Dutch Minister at Havre, could not 
have lent their names to any other program. 

But on the other hand the Belgian Red Cross was no 
longer Belgian. The German authorities, for reasons 


which have not been made clear, had taken charge of 
it, and Prince Hatzfeldt was its head. 

Then as always when we were in great difficulty in 
Belgium came Herbert C. Hoover. 

A letter preceded him from the Marquess of 
Crewe, Lord President of the British Council, de- 
manding that the German Government hand over to 
the Commission for Relief in Belgium and the National 
Relief Committee, for distribution to the Belgians, the 
whole of the indigenous cereal crop for 1915, and 
add to this the usual guarantees against military requi- 

All small matters under negotiation faded before this 
fundamental demand. We were informed by the British 
Admirality that shipments into Belgium must cease on 
August fifteenth, unless the demand were complied with 
before that date. 

Exactly what followed is known only to a few men. 
Berlin, not Brussels, took the helm. There came a sud- 
den reversal of policies. Embarrassing orders which 
had previously been given were tacitly ignored and 
the entire cereal crop of Belgium was reserved for the 
Belgians on the terms insisted upon by Great Britain. 
From the harvests of 1915 the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium received as steward for the Belgian people 
fifteen thousand tons of wheat per month, and imported 
from abroad a supplemental fifty-five thousand tons per 


To requisition the crop the German General Govern- 
ment constituted an interesting bit of machinery called 
the Central Crop Commission on which there were five 
Germans, one Belgian, and one American. A maximum 
price was decreed at which the crop was to be purchased 
of the farmer and a maximum price at which flour was 
to be sold throughout Belgium. Barley was requisi- 
tioned for the Belgian breweries; rye was apportioned 
between human and animal consumers; and traffic in 
cereals outside of the channels of the Commission was 
absolutely prohibited. 

The function of the Central Crop Commission was to 
requisition the crop under such circumstances as made it 
easy for the Belgian National Committee and the Com- 
mission for Relief in Belgium to purchase and distribute 
it to the ultimate consumers. Provincial co-operative so- 
cieties were instituted with sufficient capital available to 
buy one-twelfth of the crop each month, and it was then 
turned over to the committees, and by them distributed 
as if it were imported grain. 14 

The tension at headquarters relaxed abruptly and a 
fairer and franker attitude toward the Commission 
and the National Committee took the place of the earlier 
distrust. It is safe to infer that much of this was due 
to Herbert C. Hoover. 

'See Appendix XXXIII, page 365, and Appendix XXXIV, 
page 366. 



The work of the Commission now touched a much 
larger number of people than at first. Its more than 
seven million four hundred thousand clients had grown 
to nearly ten million. On April nineteenth, 1915, the 
Commission, represented by its Brussels director, Oscar 
T. Crosby, and the Quartermaster Department of the 
German General Staff Headquarters in the north of 
France, represented by Major von Kessler, signed an 
agreement extending the American relief work into those 
departments of the north of France within the German 
zone of occupation, and affecting a population of two 
million one hundred and forty thousand. Five autono- 
mous districts were created: Lille, with a population of 
six hundred and seventy thousand; Valenciennes, with 
six hundred and twenty thousand; Saint Quentin, with 
three hundred and thirty thousand; Vervins, with two 
hundred and eighty thousand; Rethel-Charleville, with 
one hundred and fifty thousand; and Longwy, with 
ninety thousand. Maubeuge, with one hundred thousand, 
and Givet-Fumay, with thirty thousand inhabitants, 
had already been annexed for purposes of the relief 
work to the Belgian province of Namur. 1 

For each of these districts two American delegates 
were appointed, and a German officer who spoke both 
French and English was especially assigned to co-op- 

1 See Appendix XXXV, page 367. 


erate with the Americans, to accompany them everywhere, 
and to censor all their telegrams or letters. In theory, 
the German " nurse " and the American delegates were 
inseparable. The Americans rode in military automo- 
biles, and they could be provided with free lodgings and 
the food and service belonging to a German officer, if 
they so desired. 

The same guarantees covered Commission supplies in 
the north of France as in Belgium. 

The spirit of the work in France differed from that 
in most of Belgium. The misery was as great, or even 
greater when the work began, but the people seemed 
less energetic, less resistant than the Belgian populations. 
Commission delegates often remarked that the conquered 
French seemed to feel less outraged by the war. " If the 
Germans were not here, our armies might be in their 
country. It is war," an old man once said to me sadly. 

But the cause lay deeper than philosophy. It lay to 
some extent in the lack of leaders and a lack of organiza- 
tion. Most of the notables were gone. The young men 
were in the French army; the older and more important 
citizens were also beyond the German lines. There 
were no such men as Cardinal Mercier, Emile Francqui, 
Louis Solvay, or Jean Jadot in the north of France. 
The land was a vast concentration camp guarded at 
every point. But another reason for the listlessness lay 
in the fact that in northern France there lives a dis- 
spirited, exhausted, worked-out racial stock. Hunch- 


backs, cripples, and other deformities are common ; for it 
is the industrial and unromantic portion, the Pittsburgh 
district of France, which the German armies hold, and 
modern industry had taken its toll of the inhabitants 
long before militarism laid its hand upon them. 1 

1 See Appendix XXXVI, page 368. 



" ' How America saved Belgium ' would make a fine 
title for a book on the relief work/' suggested a friend. 

" But it wouldn't be true." 

"Wouldn't be true?" 

"No. Not yet, at any rate. The Belgians aren't 
saved yet. Saving them is a day to day work until the 
end of the war. Besides that, America hasn't done the 
bulk of it so far." 

" Hasn't? Why, what is all this Belgian gratitude for? 
You say America hasn't done the work? Who has?" 

" Let me ask you a question first. Do you know how 
much it costs per month to feed Belgium and northern 
France ? " 

" I haven't the ghost of an idea." 

" Approximately $7,500,000 for Belgium, and $4,400,- 
ooo for France. And do you know how much cash 
America has contributed up to May thirty-first, 1916? 
Approximately $1,147,600. . . . And how much food? 
Approximately $4,809,100 worth. . . . And how much 
clothing? Most of $4,500,000 worth. . . . Add them 



all together and count them all as food, and you have 
$10,456,700. Divide that by the monthly requirement, 
$7,500,000 notice that I omit the north of France al- 
together and you have food for Belgium for one and 
two-fifths months, or about forty-three days. 

" Take the two million five hundred thousand desti- 
tute who are our special wards. They are about one- 
third of the total population of Belgium. Multiply forty- 
three days by three, and you have one hundred and 
twenty-nine days, or about four months' life for the 
destitute, if they alone are considered. 

" That is not the whole story, of course. The operat- 
ing expenses of the Commission have been less than one 
per cent of its expenditures, largely because of the 
volunteer services given by its members, most of whom 
are Americans. Hoover time and again has mentioned 
this in his reports as a contribution amounting to mil- 
lions and millions of dollars. As long ago as June 
thirtieth, 1915, he estimated it at $4,800,000. 

" And that is not all. Hoover says in one of his re- 
ports : ' One feature of publicity has been of the utmost 
importance to this work. The Commission felt that with 
the tendency to toss the ball of responsibility for feed- 
ing the civil population between the belligerents, the 
greatest hope of maintaining the open door for the im- 
portation of foodstuffs into Belgium and the retention 
of native food, was to create the widest possible public 
opinion on the subject. We believed that if the rights 


of the civil population in the matter of food could be 
made a question of public interest second to the war it- 
self, then the strongest bulwark in support of the Com- 
mission would have been created. Public opinion in this 
matter has been developed to a remarkable degree, and 
has yielded results which cannot now well be discussed 
at the length the subject warrants, but they have been of 
transcendent importance in the solution of the whole 

" These things are big. The trouble is people think 
the work is done and so tie Hoover's hands while they 
pride themselves on his achievement. They can hardly 
realize that the Belgian Government is straining every 
nerve to help, that a group of French banks has stood 
manfully by the work in the north of France, and yet 
that more money must be had. 1 They surely do not 
realize that charitable people in the British Empire are 
giving more to Belgian relief than Americans are this 
minute. Their contribution was more than $12,000,000 
up to May thirty-first, 1916, and still goes on. Small but 
steady contributions do the most good." 

" But America is so big, and there are so many other 
things to think about," my friend said fretfully. " Aren't 
we Americans a little tired of Belgium ? " . . . 

We were sitting in the hall of the Hotel des Indes in 
the Hague a gilded nest of international spies, where 

1 See Appendix XXXVIII, page 372. 


secret service agents of half a dozen countries wear the 
livery of porters, chauffeurs, maidservants, and waiters, 
or cultivate the languor and Parisian gr^ace of guests. It 
was a nauseating atmosphere in which to discuss the 
Belgian work; an atmosphere of intrigue and cynicism 
and brutality. 

My thoughts jumped back into Belgium, and I had 
sight again of the marvelous vision of America 
which Belgians believe in as they believe in God 
the America which, my friend said, had grown a 
little tired of Belgium. It was a vision of a new At- 
lantis, rich, kind, secure from the dangers of war ; a land 
where there is no oppression, a land of toleration and 
understanding, where every man, woman, and child is a 
democrat, where there are no classes and no masses, 
where there is no conflict between parties, or between 
Church and State, where every one is a friend to those 
who are suffering in this war from no fault of their own ; 
a mighty land which can afford to be generous to its 
neighbors, near and far; a land where there is one lan- 
guage, one spirit, and one flag. 

Of course the picture is overdrawn. Of course we are 
not much different from Belgians, or any other people in 
this tired world. Chapters of our national history, such 
as our dealings with the Indians, the Mexican War, 
or the way we deal with industrial disputes, are fortu- 
nately unknown to our friends across the sea. But it 
seemed to me this Golden Legend might be made in' part 


a fact if America were to understand, humbly and hu- 
manly to understand, and to support in every way with 
money, and service, and national pride in a great 
achievement the work of the Commission for Relief in 
Belgium and of Herbert Clark Hoover. 
That is one reason why this book is written. 


The day came when I left Belgium to go to America 
with Herbert C. Hoover, who had crossed the frontier a 
few days before. A thick mist clung to the landscape; 
the cold, drenching mist which often hid the Belgian soil 
like a shroud. And a mist of tears flooded my eyes. 
Leaving Belgium for America was like leaving home to 
go home. 

At the first frontier post an officer whom I had often 
seen on my trips to and from Holland stepped out and 
took the passports and inspected the luggage piled high 
in the automobile. A lancer rode by in the half-light. 
Ghostly gray sentries stole out with lanterns to the 
barbed-wire entanglements and high-tension power sta- 
tion for charging electric cables which kill those who 
try to cross the No Man's Land between Belgium and the 
outer world. Other soldiers who had been loafing in 
the sentry house came out to stare in silence at the motor- 

The officer reappeared and handed me the vised pass- 


"Bitte sehr, Herr Hunt," he said. " It is for the last 
time, nicht wahrf May I speak to you frankly? Yes? 
. . . The Americans are not our friends. Tell them the 
truth when you get to America, nicht wahrf Only the 

" I will tell them only the truth," I answered soberly. 
" But, Herr Officer, in time to come, when you and I see 
more clearly, in fifty years from now " 

" In fifty years ! " he repeated bitterly. " Maybe we 
shall all be dead in fifty minutes. You Americans 
furnish ammunition " 

"And bread," I interrupted. "Never forget that. 
When you think of the ammunition we sell, think of 
the bread we give to Belgium. Good-by, Herr Officer, 
and a safe return to Germany. A uf Wiederseh'n in 
Deutschland, when the war is over." 

"Auf Wiederseh'n, when there is peace. Gute Reise 
good journey," he said. 

The red lantern in the sentry's hand dropped from 
sight, and my automobile sprang forward. " Gute 
Reise" a voice called from the dark. Mist rolled down 
like a sea, the lamps of the car were blinded with mois- 
ture, and the road swam beneath. ... I thought and 
thought of the ravished land which I was leaving : a land 
almost as dear to me as home ; a place of multitudes of 
friendships, of countless kindnesses which I had re- 
ceived, not for myself but for the American people. 


The trunks piled in my automobile held hundreds of 
souvenirs: flour sacks embroidered by friends, medal- 
lions, lace, paintings, etchings, silk banners, books, parch- 
ment rolls, and other intimate reminders of the work and 
the war. 1 But memories more precious even than these 
were written in my mind and heart: the loyalty of 
friends, the hardships and triumphs of the task of relief, 
the spirit of the men who had served with me in Ant- 
werp, the finished organization which we, Americans and 
Belgians alike, had at last achieved; the personal knowl- 
edge that more than a million people had for one year 
at any rate received their food, had been kept in good 
health, and had risen from the pit of despair into self- 
respect and confidence and hope. It was a work which 
must go on day by day to the end of the war. 

And what splendid people these Belgians are! I had 
not seen much of the Walloons, but American delegates 
from the southern provinces were loud in praise of them. 
The Flemings I knew and loved. A proud, stiff-necked, 
stoutly independent people; insubordinate, tenacious, 
clever they are a stock which will not die ; a fine element 
in European history in the past, and with great promise 
for the future. 

The automobile sped on into Esschen the frontier 
town where on my first visit to Belgium I had seen 
refugees flying from the Germans. Now, in the bleak 

1 See Appendix XXXIX, page 372. 

. M rn , an rvBE HUNT 

Embroidered and painted by the Belgians as souvenirs for the Americans. 


rooms of the Town Hall sat a relief committee 
reliable, hard-working, conscientious volunteers 
providing daily rations of war bread and other food, 
clothing, money, and work for the people of their com- 
mune. It was a vast change from the chaos of the year 
before. The rebirth of Belgium had begun. . . . 

" You are going to America, Herr Hunt ? " the Ger- 
mans asked at the last sentry post. " Gute Reise, gluck- 
liche Reise, auf Wiedersetin!" 

The car moved forward again. At the back of a little 
Flemish church, surrounded with graveyard crosses 
swimming in murk and mist, I caught sight of a greater 
cross and an image of the agonized Christ the familiar 
symbol of our common humanity. On that dark day 
it seemed peculiarly the symbol of Belgium the little 
land which has suffered so much, but whose moral 
triumph is sure ; the land which has been crucified, dead, 
and buried, but from which a free and united people must 
rise, or else life is a mockery. . . . The vague shape 
of the shrine faded in the dusk as the last sentries opened 
the frontier barriers and stepped aside to let me into free 
and neutral Holland. 

" Good evening, mynheer," called a Dutch officer in 
the quaint, sing-song dialect of North Brabant. " Have 
you something to show to the customs inspector this 
evening? " 

And as Pierre de Weert, prince of chauffeurs, fumbled 


with numbed fingers at the straps of my luggage, he 
lifted his face, and gazing through the dusk toward the 
country we had just left, sadly spoke my valedictory: 
" Monsieur, vous avez quitte la belle Belgique you have 
left our beautiful Belgium ! " 


This account was published in the Outlook of January 
26, 1916, after later utterances of Liebknecht had gone 
far beyond the words here recorded. The following is 
reprinted from the Outlook of Wednesday, April 12, 1916. 

IN its issue of February 17, 1916, La Bataille, the syndi- 
calist Paris daily, published a translation of the article 
which appeared in the Outlook of January 26, 1916, on 
Liebknecht, Kautsky, and Bernstein. The French paper 
justly said that these were " the three German Socialists 
best authorized to express opinions on the general situa- 
tion in Germany and on the attitude of German workmen 
in the world conflict." 

In its issue of March 2 La Bataille states that it has 
learned that Bernstein and Kautsky published in the Berlin 
Vorw'drts of February 27 a strong protest, categorically 
denying the affirmations of the Outlook's representative, as 
follows : 

We have never seen the Outlook's representative and have 
expressed ourselves in such terms to no one, for we have 
been made to say the contrary to what seems to us just and 
necessary to say. 

We have searched our file of Vorw'drts, and especially 
the issue of February 27, without discovering the above 
denial. Again in its issue of March 12 La Bataille quotes 
the Brunswick Socialist organ, Volksfreund, as printing the 
following letter, dated February 27, from Dr. Liebknecht: 



I have never been interviewed by a representative of the 
Outlook. My opinions are known and decided opinions. 
That which the Outlook's correspondent makes me to say is 
contrary to these opinions and on certain points to the 

La Bataille is mystified. In its issues of March 2 and 
12 it discusses editorially the controversy between the Out- 
look and the three German Socialists. From these editorials 
we translate and combine the following paragraphs which 
give a fair representation of the not unnatural mystification 
of La Bataille: 

The Outlook of New York has a reputation for accuracy. 
As an indication of this we need only to remind our readers 
of the interview it obtained and published with Sazonoff 
[the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs]. That interview 
has received the seal of approval from the most com- 
petent critics. Moreover, the opinions which Liebknecht, 
Kautsky, and Bernstein expressed, according to the anony- 
mous correspondent of the Outlook, are so plausible and 
reasonable, according to our view, that they form the only 
explanation which can serve as an excuse for the conduct 
of the German Socialists [the italics are La Bataille' s]. . . . 
We propose to send the present issue of La Bataille to the 
Editors of the Outlook, inviting them by letter to give us 
the reply of their correspondent [to the alleged denial of 
Dr. Liebknecht and his colleagues]. . . . When we have 
received a reply from New York, we shall be able to tell 
our readers whether the correspondent of the Outlook has 
indulged in a hoax, or whether there is some misunderstand- 
ing regarding the meaning of the word interview. . . . 
We published the three interviews because they seemed to 
us to exactly coincide with the actual facts. Investigation 
confirms us in our belief that in several respects the 
language attributed to Karl Liebknecht by the American 
journalist corresponds, word for word, with statements 
which we have read in other places from the pen of 
Liebknecht himself. . . . We cannot at present regard 
as satisfactory the meager statement of Karl Liebknecht 
that the Outlook interview is contrary to his opinions and 
on certain points to the facts. 


These denials of the three German Socialists raise issues 
far more interesting than that of veracity. The issue of 
veracity, however, we are ready to meet. The Outlook 
stands squarely behind the correspondent responsible for 
its account of the interview with the three German So- 

From this correspondent we have received the following 
statement : 

" The interview with Liebknecht, Kautsky, and Bern- 
stein, published in your issue of January 26, 1916, took 
place as described. Liebknecht I saw in the private office 
in which he does his work as a member of the Reichstag. 
Kautsky and Bernstein I interviewed in a private apart- 
ment-house in Berlin. The gentlemen have a right to 
change their minds, and of course they may say that the 
interviews misrepresent them. At the time I wrote the 
article I believed, and I still believe, that it is an accurate 
account of what took place." 

The Outlook withheld the name of its correspondent for 
two good and sufficient reasons. The first had reference 
to the welfare of the three Socialists interviewed; the sec- 
ond cannot be explained until after the termination of the 
war. It should be said here that the interviews were not 
published in the Outlook until Dr. Liebknecht's reported 
utterances in the Reichstag went so far beyond those given 
in the text of our interview with him that we felt that its 
publication would not in any way jeopardize his safety. 
That we did not overestimate the possibility of personal 
danger to Dr. Liebknecht arising from the publication of 
his views may be judged by the remarks which Dr. Lieb- 
knecht himself made to an American university professor 
of high standing. We reported these remarks as follows in 
our issue of March 29 : 

Dr. Liebknecht said that the position which he had taken 
in opposition to Germany's action had put him in personal 


danger, so much so that it was not beyond the bounds of 
possibility that he might at any time disappear and never 
be heard of again. As he said this he significantly drew 
his hand across his neck, and then added that the fortunes 
of an individual were of no consequence. 

The more interesting issues raised by the denials of Lieb- 
knecht, Kautsky, and Bernstein are clearly indicated by 
the following quotation from La Bataille: 

One thing is certain: German Socialists of the Opposi- 
tion have not taken into account the interest with which the 
entire world awaits what they decide to say frankly and 
without reservation on questions of principle and tactics, 
and they should not leave their comrades in other countries 
in doubt as to their attitude regarding the German Govern- 
ment and the Social Democratic majority. 

Although the German Socialists failed to make them- 
selves felt on August i, 1914, is it still " just and necessary " 
(to use the words attributed to Kautsky and Bernstein by 
La Bataille) that their leaders fail to express them- 
selves frankly until the end of the war? Is it "just and 
necessary " for their leaders to say one thing in their 
studies and another thing in their despatches relayed to 
us by the Wolff Telegraphic Bureau ? 

Is it " just and necessary " that they allow themselves 
to be pictured as loyal supporters of the Government, or, 
at worst, as harmless members of a purely vocal Oppo- 
sition? Is it "just and necessary" for them to dodge 
what La Bataille indicates is the world-wide interest 
in their attitude regarding the German Government and 
the Social Democratic majority? 

The Outlook agrees with La Bataille that the next 
word on these subjects belongs to Kautsky, Bernstein, 
and Liebknecht, and wishes that it might have a frank, 
direct, and uncensored expression of their views. We 
content ourselves with adding that our correspondent, whose 


interviews with the three influential German Socialists have 
become the subject of an international discussion, is a 
highly educated and thoroughly trustworthy American who 
has lived in Europe and is in sincere sympathy with inter- 
national Socialism. 


IN many of their official dealings with the Belgians the 
Germans insisted on speaking the German language, al- 
though many Belgians cannot understand a word of Ger- 
man, while the officers concerned practically all know 

Belgians could send no telegrams; they could use no 
telephones; they could mail no letters, and they could not 
travel without buying a pass at the German Pass Bureaus. 
Belgian newspapers were managed by German agents, or 
else were heavily censored. 

In Antwerp as a means of restoring order and confidence 
after the fall of the city, the German authorities wisely 
agreed with the municipality that if the local newspapers 
would resume publication they should be permitted to print 
uncensored the official despatches of all the belligerents, and 
that the censor might excise but would not add to editorial 
or news matter. Five newspapers then appeared. At first 
they were allowed to print references to King Albert, Queen 
Elizabeth, and the Belgian army and government; and the 
Reuter official despatches regularly appeared side by side 
with those of the Wolff Bureau. 

After about a month, however, the censor began to tamper 
with the Reuter despatches. Later he demanded that. arti- 
cles dictated by the German authorities appear without com- 


ment in the Antwerp press, and when the five newspapers 
drew up a formal complaint which they submitted to the 
censor and which he in turn forwarded to Brussels, he 
punished them by suspending them for one week. The 
memorandum requested that the German authorities observe 
the conditions under which the Antwerp papers had re- 
sumed publication, but the request was refused, and the 
five newspapers ceased publication. 

The most interesting newspaper in Belgium is published 
without the permission of the Germans, and has puzzled 
and exasperated them to this day. It is called La Libre 
Belgique, and is printed and distributed to its subscribers 
in spite of a price of fifty thousand francs set upon the 
head of its editor or editors, and in spite of unusually 
severe sentences imposed upon several of its vendors who 
have been caught in the act of distributing it. Rumor says 
that the paper is printed in an obscure garage by means of 
an automobile motor ; its price is " elastic from zero to 
infinity," and with delicious audacity it declares its tele- 
graphic address to be " Kommandantur, Brussels." It ap- 
pears at irregular intervals, but usually once every week or 

In the Wiertz Museum in Brussels there is a horrible 
painting called " Napoleon in Hell," showing the Corsican 
haunted by the spirits of those he had slain. After the 
execution of Miss Edith Cavell, La Libre Belgique printed 
a travesty of this painting in which the Kaiser's face was 
shown instead of Napoleon's, and among the spirits haunt- 
ing him the figure of Miss Cavell. 

Another issue of La Libre Belgique reproduced a cleverly 
patched photograph of Governor-General von Bissing sit- 
ting in his private office, reading the proscribed journal. 
Beneath the picture was a note, " Our dear Governor, dis- 
heartened by reading the lies of the censored newspapers, 
seeks for truth in La Libre Belgique!' 



Reprinted from the first Annual Report of the Commis- 
sion for Relief in Belgium, October 31, 1915. 

IT appeared at the outset of relief measures that not only 
would the destitute of Belgium have to be regarded as a 
ward of the world's charity, but that even much of the food 
for the well-to-do, owing to the complete breakdown of 
Belgian internal finance, would have to be provided from 
external charity. . . . The first financial activity of the 
Relief Directors was therefore to set up various economic 
cycles whereby food sold to those who could pay might be 
interpreted into gold values abroad. Ultimately, approval 
was obtained for the Commission to conduct exchange opera- 
tions through the belligerent lines, and considerable amounts 
of money owing to Belgium have been collected abroad 
from individuals, contra-payment being made in Belgium 
out of paper moneys received from sales of food. These 
operations relieve the strain on the Commission income and 
enable the recipient to keep clear of charity. The total of 
such remittances has been 562,740 95. nd. from over 
12,000 different persons. The second step of this na- 
ture was to borrow certain sums from banks abroad, 
amounting to 600,000, contra-liability being taken in Bel- 
gium. The third step was to undertake the payment of con- 
siderable sums in Belgium on behalf of the Belgian Govern- 
ment at Le Havre. At the time of the occupation, certain 
sums were due from the National Exchequer to various 
institutions; these sums have now been received by the 
Commission from the Belgian Government and, in turn, 
paid to the institutions concerned out of local receipts from 
food sales. 


While the whole of these operations are simply in the 
nature of commercial exchange, they have an indirect 
benevolent aspect, for they not only enable a large number 
of persons to subsist without charity, but also make it pos- 
sible to reduce the general load upon the Commission by 
rendering the provisioning of the better-to-do classes a com- 
mercial operation affording an incidental profit applicable to 


Reprinted from the Report of the Millers' Belgian Relief 
Movement, conducted by the Northwestern Miller through 
its editor, William C. Edgar, Minneapolis, Minn., 

OWING to the fact that all officials and directors and a 
very large proportion of the staff of the Commission serve 
without pay, the expenses of operation are incredibly small, 
and probably unparalleled in this respect by any charitable 
organization in the world. 

From October 22nd to March 6th, during which period 
purchases were effected amounting to 3,000,000, the gen- 
eral expenses of the London office, including cables, postage, 
salaries, traveling, printing, stationery, accountants' and 
auditors' fees and sundries, were but 5,200; the expenses 
of the Rotterdam and Brussels branches were but a trifle 
more than this amount. 



Reprinted from the first Annual Report of the Commis- 
sion for Relief in Belgium, October 31, 

THE chartering and management of an entire fleet of 
vessels, together with agency control practically throughout 
the world, has been carried out for the Commission quite 
free of the usual charges by large transportation firms who 
offered these concessions in the cause of humanity. Banks 
generally have given their exchange services and have paid 
the full rate of interest on deposits ; insurance has been facili- 
tated by the British Government Insurance Commissioners ; 
and the firms who fix the insurance have subscribed the 
equivalent of their fees. Harbor dues and port charges 
have been remitted at many points, and stevedoring firms 
have made important concessions in rates and have afforded 
other generous services. In Holland exemption from har- 
bor dues and telegraph tolls has been granted, and rail 
transport into Belgium provided free of charge. The total 
value of these Dutch concessions is estimated at 147,824 
guilders. The German military authorities in Belgium 
itself have abolished custom and canal dues on all Com- 
mission imports, have reduced railway rates one-half, and 
on canals and railways they give right-of-way to Commis- 
sion foodstuffs wherever there is need. 


THE first supplies consisted of 6,000 tons of cereals, 
1,000 tons of rice, and 3,000 tons of peas and beans, 


bought in London by Millard Shaler for the account of 
the city of Brussels. The next consisted of cargoes of 
grain, lying in the mouth of the Scheldt at Ter Neuzen 
and belonging to Belgians. These were appropriated by 
the Commission and returned to Belgium. 

At the same time Brussels secured a lot of 5,000 tons of 
wheat, belonging to the provisions requisitioned at Antwerp, 
which the Germans " loaned " to the Belgian Committee 
for milling and distribution in Brussels, Charleroi, Liege, 
and Verviers. This was on November i6th. Meanwhile 
the Belgian appeal was spreading throughout the world. 


THE report of the Commission for November, 1914, shows 
the ships " Coblenz " and " Iris " from London, received at 
Rotterdam on the first and second respectively ; five lighters 
of wheat from Hansweert, received on the second ; the ships 
" Jan Blockx I " and " Tellus " from London, received on 
the ninth; ten lighters of wheat and flour from Hansweert 
and three lighters of wheat from Ter Neuzen, received on 
the ninth ; the " Tremorvah " from Halifax on the fif- 
teenth ; the " Gramsbergen " from Liverpool on the eigh- 
teenth ; the " Massapequa " from New York on the twenty- 
first, and the " Jan Blockx II " from London on the 
twenty-fourth a total of 26,470 tons of food for the first 
month of operations, worth about $1,021,267. 



EDUCATED Flemings are bilingual, like the Galileans of 
Christ's day. They speak either French or Flemish with 
equal fluency, although a guttural quality and local idioms 
sometimes disfigure the former. For political and cultural 
reasons many of them cling to their native Flemish. It 
is the common speech : the language of the people of Flan- 
ders. When written, it is practically the same as the Dutch 
a low Germanic language but the spoken language dif- 
fers from the Dutch in many particulars. 

The Flemish Movement is not a separatist movement, 
as is commonly supposed in America. It is a democratic, 
and in my opinion a just assertion of the predominant influ- 
ence of the Flemish stock in Belgium. During the war the 
Flemish Movement can have no political significance, for 
the Flemings are as loyal as any other portion of the 
people to the ideal of a free and united Belgium. 

To an American ear the language of Flanders is like Old 
English resurrected from the tomes. One seems to hear 
" Piers Ploughman " all about one. It is a warty, hard- 
fisted, tough-muscled language which has been out in the 
weather until it has got well sunburned ; a splendid language 
for oratory and profanity ! 

Almost every place and every thing in Flemish Belgium 
has two or more names. Antwerp is " Antwerpen " in 
Flemish, " Anvers " (please pronounce the final s) in 
French. The River Scheldt is " Schelde " in Flemish, 
" 1'Escaut " in French. Mechlin or Malines is " Mechelen " 
in Flemish, "Malines" in French. Ghent is "Gent" in 
Flemish, " Gand " in French. " Mons " is French, of 
course, but its Flemish name is " Bergen." 



Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 1915. 

THE actual work of food distribution and the care of the 
destitute was done entirely by the Belgians. Twenty-five 
or thirty thousand men and women volunteers throughout 
the country were engaged in this splendid task. In each 
commune there was a local committee, working under the 
direction of the Commission for Relief in Belgium and the 
National Relief Committee; there was a Provisioning De- 
partment to each of these committees, rationing and selling 
the imported foodstuffs to the Belgian population, who paid 
either in money or in food checks given them by the 
Benevolent Department ; and there was the Benevolent De- 
partment feeding, clothing, and housing the destitute, pro- 
viding medical attention, organizing work for the unem- 
ployed, paying unemployment benefits, and so keeping alive 
and as well as possible, 2,750,000 unfortunate men, women, 
and children. 

The total number of persons in Belgium receiving some 
form of relief it is impossible to determine. The relief 
afforded through the Financial Relief Department, together 
with the very large and generous support to workpeople 
being given by employers in practically gratuitous wage- 
allowances, and the widespread individual charity through- 
out Belgium save a great number from falling in the last 
resort on the Communal Committees. Some insight into the 
situation is afforded by three examples. In the Capital, and 
therefore largely residential city of Brussels, prior to the 
supplemental grants, between 8,000,000 and 9,000,000 ra- 
tions were served monthly from the Canteens, indicating 



from 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the population as being 
thus directly relieved. The numbers who are saved from 
this form of relief through the operations of the indirect 
services and the large amount of personal charity, it is 
impossible to estimate. In the province of Liege, a typical 
industrial section, out of a population of about 900,000 there 
are some 450,000 persons, or about 50 per cent, being 
assisted by some of the above services, and there are esti- 
mated to be 40,000 more who receive help through other 
agencies such as the " Financial Relief Department." A 
typical agricultural province such as Luxembourg shows 
only about 20 per cent of the population dependent upon 
benevolence. A study of the distribution and amount of 
the " Allowances " described above indicates that about 
700,000 families are receiving this form of assistance. Alto- 
gether this category, together with those wholly supported 
on the Canteens, would be estimated on the low side at 
2,750,000 persons. To this must be added a further 500,- 
ooo who are saved from the care of the Local Committees 
through the operations of Financial Relief measures. It 
may be repeated that many of those being assisted still have 
some resources of their own for instance, the general opera- 
tion of the coal mines one day or sometimes two days per 
week might conceivably enable the worker himself to live, 
but his dependents would be helpless. 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 50, 1915. 

THE organization by which detailed distribution is accom- 
plished can best be understood if it is conceived that there 


have been created 2,500 different local committees, one in 
each principal commune, which will be referred to hereafter 
as " The Communal Distribution Committees." These com- 
mittees are in many instances headed by the Burgomaster 
and embrace other communal officials, as well as volunteers, 
although in some instances they are entirely composed of 
non-official volunteers. In order to secure consolidation of 
control and simplification of relations with these multitudi- 
nous committees, a federal system has been set up, by which 
these Communal Committees are represented in Regional 
Committees and these Regional Committees, in turn, repre- 
sented in Provincial Committees. The Provincial Com- 
mittees are the principal centers of stimulative activity and, 
while they have decided autonomy in provincial matters, 
questions which affect the entire country are decided by 
meetings of delegates from these Provincial Committees, 
and these delegates, together with a small executive body, 
comprise the working membership of the Comite National. 
The Commission for Relief in Belgium forms, jointly with 
the Comite National, the executive control, and it is also 
represented by delegates on the Provincial Committees, and 
the whole structure so interlinks that any separate descrip- 
tion of functions would only tend to confuse. 

Apart from these executive functions, the Commission is 
itself charged separately with the international guarantees 
and the elaborate stipulations contained therein, which 
necessitate that the foodstuffs shall remain in the possession 
of the Commission, and the control of the transportation 
and warehouses thus falls on its members. Furthermore, 
the Commission is under international obligation to main- 
tain rigid justice in distribution. 



The Northwestern Miller, an admirable trade paper, 
solicited from its clients, through its editor, William C. 
Edgar, of Minneapolis, a cargo of 275,500 sacks of flour, 
beans, peas, oatmeal, and barley, valued at about $510,000. 
Mr. Edgar personally accompanied the Millers' Ship to 
Rotterdam and then came into Belgium to oversee the 
distribution of the gifts. He has recorded his satisfaction 
with the work of the Commission in his report to his clients, 
entitled " The Millers' Belgian Relief Movement," Minne- 
apolis, 1915. 


THROUGHOUT Belgium the priest is an important character. 
A few of the cities and most of the towns are Catholic, and 
the priest is a political and social as well as a religious 
director. In the towns and villages he is often more im- 
portant than the Burgomaster. He is accustomed to relieve 
distress, and in the volunteer organizations through which 
the work of the Commission for Relief in Belgium is done 
the parish priest and the whole Catholic hierarchy, with the 
Cardinal-Archbishop at their head, are most important ele- 



UNDER the symbol lay an ocean of feeling deep as life 
itself. Belgium had always been hospitable to the Ger- 
mans. Antwerp before the war might almost have been 
called a German port. The German school was the best 
school in the city; German society there was considered as 
good as Belgian society; the German Lutheran Church was 
supported by practically all Belgians who were not Roman 
Catholics; throughout Belgium, German was a legal lan- 
guage, on a par with French and Flemish, and if one de- 
sired one could require that a case at law be tried in Ger- 
man. In the eastern parts of Belgium were thousands of 
Belgian citizens who spoke no language but German. In 
the province of Antwerp some fifteen thousand residents 
were recorded as speaking only German. Belgians admired 
German efficiency. They felt a certain contempt for repub- 
lican France; they thought her effete and irreligious. The 
Catholics were especially severe on their republican neigh- 
bors to the south, and it should not be forgotten that when 
the Germans demanded the right to send their armies down 
the Meuse there were not lacking one or two Catholic 
politicians who felt that the country should give in and 
should permit the invasion with a formal protest. 


ART played a subordinate part in the work of the Antwerp 
committees, except in the Canton of Moll. There it reigned 
supreme. The president of the Cantonal Committee Moll is 


the largest Canton in Belgium was Jakob Smits. German 
generals, who admired Smits as an artist, gave him privileges 
enjoyed by few other Belgian citizens. At one time he 
appeared to be free to go and come from Holland when he 
chose, and in Holland, as in Belgium, he received unusual 
consideration. At the instance of Mr. Louis Franck, Mr. 
Smits frequently wrung concessions for imports from the 
Dutch Foreign Office, such as no one else could obtain. 

The Dutch Minister of Commerce and Labor was a 
friend of Smits. On one occasion, I am told, the artist 
presented himself before the Minister and demanded the 
right to buy in Holland a quantity of flour and various 
cattle foods, the export of which at that time was pro- 
hibited by the Dutch. The Minister politely refused. Smits 
persisted. The Minister was obdurate. Smits argued. The 
Minister regretted, but could make no exception. Smits 
stormed. " I will kill myself," he shouted, " if you do not 
give me that permission at once ! I will kill myself here in 
your private office ! My blood will flow on your carpet ! 
Here ! Now ! " The Minister, knowing that he was dealing 
with an artist, surrendered, and Smits got the permission. 

His returns from Holland were always in the nature of 
triumphal entries, and the Canton of Moll waxed fat. 


FIFTEEN soup kitchens were feeding the poor from sup- 
plies laid up in anticipation of the siege. Ten local com- 
mittees in the greater city were distributing assistance in 
kind to necessitous Belgians who had never been inscribed 
at the official Bureau of Charities (le Bureau de Bienfai- 
sance). Private charity had established cheap restaurants, 


where good food could be got at low prices. There was 
an incorporated bank for loans with a capital of 250,000 
francs, in response to the imperative demands of small 
tradespeople. The Civil Volunteers, for the assistance of 
the families of soldiers who had fought and died for the 
country, had assisted about 5,000 families. Side by side 
with these newer charities were the older homes, refuges, 
and hospitals, enlarged to care for the floods of those 
requiring assistance. 

All this work had been in the hands of the local relief 
committees. Outside of the city proper, the people of the 
fortress had been supplied with food, as long as it lasted, 
and with financial assistance. 

A special machinery had even been set up by the Belgian 
Government to provide for the chaos which followed the 
fall of the city. While King Albert and his ministers were 
in Antwerp they nominated an Intercommunal Commission, 
consisting of the most prominent citizens of Antwerp and 
the communes in the fortress, so that when the city fell 
there should be a provisional Belgian administration, in 
addition to the Permanent Deputation of the Provincial 
Council. Deputy Louis Franck was president of the Inter- 
communal Commission. 


AN odd geographical feature of the arrondissement of 
Turnhout is that it has an enclave in the Dutch province 
of North Brabant. This enclave, the commune of Bar-le- 
Duc, is like a Belgian island in a Dutch sea, except that 
the sea is swampy Campine a compound of sand and 
purple heather. The Germans cannot invade it, for to do 


so would be to violate the neutrality of Holland. So the 
2,500 inhabitants of Bar-le-Duc fly the Belgian flag, employ 
Belgian police and guards, post letters at a Belgian post 
office, and cheer for King Albert and Queen Elizabeth, 
with no fear of retaliatory Zeppelin raids or Uhlan visits. 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 1915. 

WITH the partial recovery from complete prostration, the 
admirable organizing and administrative powers of the Bel- 
gians themselves have recovered to vigorous initiative and 
executive action. Since October, local relief Committees 
have been organized in practically every commune, and 
there has been created over these Committees a federal sys- 
tem of District and Provincial Committees with the Comite 
National at the apex. The relation of this structure to the 
Commission per se is one of joint endeavor, and the mem- 
bership of the Americans in all these Committees entirely 
interlocks the organization. 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 

THE amount and character of foodstuffs required has 
altered from time to time, due to the exhaustion of native 


supplies, or seasonal causes, and the monthly consumption 
now being provided is as follows: 


Wheat (or equivalent in flour) 60,000 

Maize 20,000 

Rice 7,500 

Peas and beans 4,000 

Bacon and lard 6,000 


The approximate cost is about $7,500,000 per month for 
Belgium alone. 

Reprinted from the first Annual Report of the Commis- 
sion for Relief in Belgium, October 31, 1915. 

The total, in metric tons, of commodities delivered dur- 
ing the year was: 

Purchased Gifts in Kind Totals 

Wheat 508,112 23,166 SS 1 ^^ 

Flour 108,575 45>346 I53.9 2 i 

Maize 1 10,487 8,744 1 19,231 

Rice 72,594 2,406 75.000 

Beans and peas 28,758 3,652 32,410 

Bacon, lard, and meat 29,149 837 29,986 

Potatoes 14,943 3,415 18,358 

Sundries 17^59 8,186 25,345 

Clothing and miscellaneous . 775 2,548 3>3 2 3 

Totals 890,552 98,300 988,852 

The above contains a total of 121,136 tons shipped to 
northern France, and stocks in Rotterdam on October 3ist. 



AN interesting inter-provincial trade was the purchase 
by Mr. Edouard Bunge, on behalf of the National Relief 
Committee, of a large stock of valorization coffee lying in 
warehouses at Antwerp. This coffee was the property of 
the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. Through a representative 
of the Government of Brazil permission was secured from 
the German authorities to release the coffee to the Belgian 
Committees, and accordingly it was apportioned among 
the nine Provincial Committees. 


THE idea of a co-operative society is typically Belgian. 
The Socialist co-operative experiments of a quarter of a 
century ago, notably " La Maison du Peuple " in Brussels 
an 1 " Vooruit " in Ghent, have had countless imitators. 
But political lines of cleavage are always observed, so that 
in Antwerp, for example, we had Socialist, Liberal, and 
Catholic co-operative bakeries. 

J. Seebohm Rowntree has an interesting chapter on Bel- 
gian co-operatives in his book Land and Labor, published 
by Macmillan, London, 1910. 

In my opinion this book is the most adequate account 
in English of Belgian industrial and social conditions before 
the war. 



ITS first patrons were the American Minister, Mr. Brand 
Whitlock, and the Spanish Minister, the Marquis of Vil- 
lalobar. In April, 1915, Jonkheer de Weede, Dutch Minister 
at Havre, became a patron of the Committee. Its president 
is Ernest Solvay; vice-presidents, Jean Jadot and L. van 
der Rest; members, Count Cicogna, Baron Coppee, P. 
Dansette, Chevalier de Bauer, G. de Laveleye, Count Jean 
de Merode, "fimile Francqui, Baron A. Goffinet, Baron 
Janssen, Emmanuel Janssen, Baron Lambert, Alfred Orban, 
L. Cousin, Louis Solvay, Josse Allard, F. M. Philippson, 
General Thys; two American citizens resident in Brussels 
D. Heineman and W. Hulse; and secretaries E. van 
Elewyck and F. van Bree. The presidents and vice-presi- 
dents of the Provincial Committees make part of the Na- 
tional Committee. 

The Executive Committee consists of Emile Francqui, 
president; Josse Allard, Count Cicogna, L. Cousin, Cheva- 
lier de Wouters d'Oplinter, D. Heineman, W. Hulse, 
Emmanuel Janssen, Michel Levie, Louis Solvay, and secre- 
taries E. van Elewyck and F. van Bree. 

The National Committee and the Provincial Committees 
are divided into two departments, a commercial depart- 
ment (d' Alimentation) and a benevolent department (de 
Secours). Under the benevolent department are five im- 
portant divisions: to provide I, Money; 2, Food; 3, Cloth- 
ing and Shoes; 4, Work; 5, Houses and other buildings. 
There are committees for the Aid and Protection of 
Refugees, the Aid and Protection of Families of Officers 
and Under-Officers Deprived of their Income by reason of 
the War, Aid and Protection of Belgian Doctors and Phar- 
macists, Aid and Protection of Artists, Aid and Protection 


of Children and Orphans of War, Aid and Protection of 
the Homeless, Aid and Protection of Damaged Churches, 
Aid and Protection of the Unemployed, Aid and Protection 
of Foreigners, Aid and Protection of Lace Makers, a spe- 
cial Commission for Temporary Houses and the Work of 
Reconstruction, a Belgian Commission for Information for 
Prisoners of War and the Interned, a Central Committee 
for the Aid of Invalids of War, a Canteen for Prisoners of 
War, and a Belgian National League against Tuberculosis. 
The Belgian National Committee is patron of all these 
channels for charity. 


THE contribution of war $96,000,000 per year is levied 
on Belgium through the Permanent Deputations of the 
Provincial Councils. It is not paid in gold, but in paper, 
for there is no gold. 

It is interesting to note in this connection that the total 
Belgian budget in peace time is from $120,000,000 to $160,- 
000,000 per year. 


WITH the conclusion of peace, the final adjustment of the 
foregoing financial operations is fairly simple. The sums 
borrowed by the provincial authorities from the Societe 
Generate, and by the individual municipalities, will be repaid 
in the restored currency of the National Bank of Belgium, 


while the Belgian Government will probably take over and 
redeem the Societe Gener ale's currency, since the Societt 
will have to be regarded as having acted for the Belgian 
Government in its absence. 

But the fiat money of the Societe Generate bears no re- 
lation to the sums expended abroad each month by the 
Commission for Relief in Belgium on behalf of the Bel- 
gian people. In the report of the Commission for June 
30, 1915, Mr. Hoover writes: 

" The purchase of foodstuffs abroad must necessarily be 
made with gold, or gold value, and these foodstuffs when 
re-sold in Belgium are paid for in local paper money. All 
metallic money and gold reserves have disappeared in Bel- 
gium, and these local emergency currencies issued by bank- 
ing houses, municipalities, &c., are obviously inconvertible 
into gold. Moreover, the import of these notes through the 
Allied lines is prohibited, and the export of any form of 
securities from Belgium is also prohibited. If there were no 
economic or legal restrictions on exchange, the Provisioning 
Department, with a moderate working capital, would revolve 
upon itself. As it stands, however, not only has the cur- 
rency received in Belgium to be interpreted into gold, but 
also it must be returned to circulation in Belgium, otherwise 
a large part of the circulating media would be absorbed by 
the Provisioning Department, and a further cause of dis- 
tress added to the many already existing. From the outset, 
the organization has accepted all forms of currency at the 
gold value of the Belgian franc, interpreted into dollars or 
sterling. These various paper moneys are therefore given 
stability and circulation throughout the country. The rate 
of exchange fixed has been at Frs. 25.40 to the i sterling. 
Belgian exchange is to-day quoted in the neutral markets 
of Holland at a ratio which would be equivalent to about 
25 per cent depreciation of Belgian money. The Com- 


mission, however, has believed that if they were to follow 
any other course than to maintain the gold value it would 
again add infinitely to the misery in the country, because it 
would be necessary to advance the price of foodstuffs as 
the exchange rose, and there is no corresponding ameliora- 
tion in wages, income, or other economic balances in Bel- 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 1915. 

THE bulk of the Commission's imports of breadstuffs 
have been in the form of wheat and maize. Considerable 
latitude is exercised by the Provincial Committees in the 
manner in which flour is prepared in the mills. Until re- 
cently it has been the general practice to mill wheat into 
flour containing 90 per cent of the whole, the remaining 
10 per cent of bran being sold for fodder. Gradually the 
various Provincial Committees are adopting the Commis- 
sion's recommendation of 80 per cent milling, and some 
Provincial Committees have milled from 10 to 12 per cent 
of maize with the wheat, or have availed themselves of 
supplies of American corn-meal to produce such a mixture. 
In certain cases the pure wheat flour imported has been 
mixed with the flour produced as above. Much discussion 
has taken place as to the effect upon the population of bread 
produced by this high percentage of milling, but a careful 
study fails to detect any deleterious results. Wide differ- 
ences of opinion have existed in Belgium as well as abroad 
as to the economics of importing wheat flour as distin- 


guished from wheat. In certain sections milling facilities 
have not been available, and there has therefore been no 
question as to the necessity of importing white flour. 
Furthermore, certain sections are destitute of foodstuff 
for cattle, and prefer to receive wheat in order that they 
may have the by-product. The difference in food-value in 
bread from wheat milled to 90 per cent, as distinguished 
from the ordinary milling of about 70 per cent to 75 per 
cent, does not seem to have been sufficient to warrant the 
difference in the cost of the two products. The occupa- 
tion given to Belgian mills and their workmen and the 
useful production of fodder are all factors which have to 
be weighed. Moreover, experience in baking has enabled 
an improvement to be made in the quality of the bread, 
and there is now a general consensus of opinion in Belgium 
that the import of wheat is more economical and advisable 
than that of flour. 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 

THE method of the detailed distribution of breadstuffs 
varies in different provinces. Originally the Communal 
Committees issued the flour from their communal ware- 
houses to accredited bakers, and these bakers were required 
to submit lists of customers for approval to the Communal 
Committee, who then issued supplies on a ratio per capita 
of the bakers' customers. The per capita allowance of 
flour has usually been at the rate of 250 grammes per 
customer, and from this amount a baker in turn normally 


produces 325 grammes of bread, a differential being made 
to the baker between the charge made to him for the flour 
and the price at which he sells the bread, sufficient to cover 
the necessary cost of his subsidiary constituents and the em- 
ployment of his labor. Latterly a system has been proposed 
by the Commission, and is now in use in several Belgium 
provinces, by which the local Committees deliver the flour 
to bakers under contracts which provide that 1.35 kilos of 
good bread must be produced from i kilo of flour, the baker 
being paid 8 centimes per kilo for baking the flour. The 
bakers, in this case, deliver the bread to an established 
depot, and each family must secure their bread from the 
nearest sectional depot. There is thus a better check on the 
baker as to quantity delivered, and a better guarantee of 
quality. The adult ration is, as before, 325 grammes of 
bread per diem. 


THE soup was made from recipes furnished by the city, 
with the following as a standard base, for 2,000 persons: 

100 kilograms peas or beans 

^/2 " bacon 

5 leeks 

150 potatoes 

5 onions 



Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 1915. 

As described under the Provisioning Department it be- 
came necessary, as an administrative measure, to sell all 
gift food, which thus falls into the general stream of sup- 
plies to the Provisioning Department. The moneys realized 
therefor are handed over to the Benevolent Department, 
and from that department are given out to the Local Com- 
mittees in the form of cash subsidies, to enable them to 
purchase foodstuffs from the general stream for supply 
to the local destitute. Initially, upon the formation of the 
Commission, it was intended, and an effort was made, to 
distribute the actual food so generously contributed into 
the hands of these Communal Committees throughout Bel- 
gium, in order that they might in turn distribute the actual 
gifts direct to the destitute. It was quickly found that, 
from the enormous size of the problem, this was wholly 
impracticable as a matter of administration. The gifts in 
actual food were of irregular character and irregular ar- 
rival, and any given canteen dependent on this source might 
be supplied with an ample amount of flour one week and 
the next week have to subsist on beans. Furthermore, 
the distribution of an actual gift cargo throughout some 
2,500 different communes would involve a complete dupli- 
cation of the system of transportation alongside the dis- 
tribution of foods provided for sale to those who had 
means to pay. In any event, these irregular gifts must be 
supplemented by purchases, and innumerable difficul- 
ties arose over the inability to adjust gifts to actual 
and particular necessities. Furthermore, large quantities 


of the material given was of the order of luxuries from a 
Belgian point of view and had less food value than its 
realization by sale to the wealthier classes would produce in 
other commodities. With the confrontation of all these diffi- 
culties the direct delivery of such charity could only be 
done either by a radical change in policy or a very extended 
and costly administration. It was therefore determined 
that all gift food should, as stated above, be turned into 
cash and the cash given to the Communal Relief Com- 
mittees as subsidies. The prices at which this food has 
been purchased by the Provisioning Department have been 
determined on the basis of the replacement value of such 
foodstuffs at the time they were given to the Commission. 
No deduction for administration or expenses are made from 
any gifts. This operation can be expressed from an 
economic point of view as follows : All sections of the 
population must be fed, and as it is socially wrong to give 
food to any who can pay, therefore, if one hundred sacks 
of flour are a gift to the Commission, then roughly, as 25 
per cent of the population is destitute, twenty-five of these 
sacks will be consumed by the destitute. Seventy-five will 
be sold at a profit and more than seventy-five sacks bought, 
of which in turn the same proportion will be consumed by 
the destitute and the balance will be sold, and the gift con- 
tinues to revolve, with accretions from the more well-to- 
do, until it is all absorbed by the destitute. 

It has been believed by the Commission that an under- 
standing of this arrangement by intelligent people could 
not give rise to any remarks other than those of com- 



EARLY in the spring we opened an " American Shop " 
for the sale of Commission merchandise, at number 51 rue 
du Jardin des Arbaletriers. Miscellaneous products had 
accumulated in our warehouses, and we had no adequate 
means for distributing them. Some of them were staples, 
such as oatmeal, but most of them were luxuries, fine 
canned goods, candies, chocolate, crackers, cakes, and 
other things which we could sell at a good price and the 
profits from which we could turn into the benevolent 

The opening of the shop was made a formal event, 
solemnized with toasts drunk in wine and with kindly 
addresses in Flemish and in English by the Burgomaster 
of the city of Antwerp. The little shop was overcrowded 
from its beginning. Two kinds of goods were sold there: 
a few staples, such as rice, corn-meal and oatmeal, and 
the de luxe products which I have mentioned. Only limited 
quantities of staple articles could be purchased by any one 
buyer; sales to any but Belgian civilians were prohibited, 
and a private detective ran down suspicious cases. The 
personnel of the shop was part paid and part volunteer, 
so that little expense was attached to it, and the things 
sold were practically all to the profit of the benevolent 
department. On the first day they amounted to 600 francs, 
the second day 800, the third day 1,400, and from that they 
climbed to a sum between 3,000 and 4,000 francs daily. 

A second shop was opened in the rue Albert Grisar for 
the sale of meat and lard imported by the Commission. 
This was a greater success even than the first, but long 
crowds stood waiting their turn day after day, until we 
were compelled to rearrange our distribution and to ask 


the city authorities to distribute both meat and groceries 
through little neighborhood shops and to check all sales by 
a card system similar to that employed in our distribution 
of flour and bread. 


A COMMITTEE of Belgian ladies, under the able direction 
of Madame Alphonse de Montigny de Wael, Madame 
Robert Osterrieth-Lippens, and Countess van de Werve de 
Vorsselaere, had bought up the dry-goods supplies still in 
Antwerp and opened a workshop in the theater Folies 
Bergeres where clothing might be made and repaired. This 
ouvoir became a Commission station, and the gift clothing 
was sent directly from the docks to the workshop. 

The city of Antwerp at first granted the ouvoir a 
monthly subsidy of 50,000 francs. Later the National Com- 
mittee assumed charge of its finances, and the workshop 
was transferred from the theater to the magnificent sym- 
phony hall on the rue d'Arenberg, belonging to the Societe 
royale d'Harmonie. There was a similar but larger ouvoir 
in Brussels at the Pole Nord, under direction of Madame 
F. M. Philippson. 

The stage of the Antwerp Harmonic was piled with 
boxes of goods. Galleries and pit were spread with rows 
of sewing machines and work tables, and the cloak room 
was transformed into a steam and sulphur disinfecting 
bath, where all materials, new and old, were taken apart 
and thoroughly cleansed. Nine hundred girls and young 
women worked under supervision in the warm, well-lighted 
hall, while about three thousand older women were given 
sewing to do at home. A group of cobblers in the hall 
made and repaired shoes. All these workers were paid. 


From the central workshop, made goods and unmade 
materials were sent throughout the Province; the latter to 
sewing circles in the villages and towns. 

In the Harmonle the girls were encouraged to sing at 
their work. One afternoon each week a singing teacher 
came and gave them lessons in the songs of their country. 
On the occasions of our inspection trips, the great organ 
behind the piles of boxes on the stage pealed a sonorous 
welcome, and the sempstresses sang us the thrilling " Lion 
of Flanders," the " Brabangonne," and once they greeted 
us with a verse of the " Star Spangled Banner." 

Except for this there was no singing in public. Belgian 
anthems were under the German ban, and war songs 
especially were proscribed. Children alone, being privileged 
characters, chirruped about as they pleased, and occasion- 
ally one caught a strange reminiscent echo of a familiar 

Once it was the tune of " Tipperary," but the words 
were new. A child, who had learned them from the British 
Tommies in Antwerp during the siege, wrote them down 
for me. At first I could make nothing of them, but care- 
ful study and enunciation a la flamande, and one has the 
famous chorus beginning, " It's a long way to Tipperary " : 

'Ts se lorn wee ti parerie, 

'Ts se lorn wee du koo, 

'Ts se lorn wee tu parries, 

Tot te zwede ke reino. 

Dubei pikatilie, waarrie leskwee. 

'Ts se lorn lorn wee peti pare, 

Het myn sklatel. 



As early as January, 1915, the National Relief Com- 
mittee began an investigation of the damage to Belgian 
property caused by the invasion of the Germans, but the 
work was abruptly stopped by the military authorities, and 
the Committee was informed that such an investigation 
lay solely in the province of the occupying power. 

Shelters, however, had to be built, even if there could 
be no general investigation of the extent of the damage. 
Belgian military engineers had done vast damage in put- 
ting the land in a condition for defense. This was parti- 
cularly the case about the fortress of Antwerp, where be- 
fore the siege began, two wide belts of country were 
cleared of forests, bushes, and dwellings, and where the 
dykes had been cut to flood the low lands. Magnificent 
castles and country houses were made heaps of ruins; 
barbed wire entanglements and trenches cut through the sites 
of hundreds of farm-houses, and in springtime bloody 
waves of poppies, mixed with blue corn-flowers, flowed 
over and under the abandoned defenses, or littered with 
beauty what once were shaven lawns. 

The ruin caused by German artillery and incendiaries 
still further intensified the problem of housing. Hundreds 
of towns in Belgium and thousands of isolated homesteads 
all over the land had been burned and battered by the 
invaders. In the villages and towns of the province of 
Antwerp not counting the cities of Antwerp and M alines 
4,456 houses were completely destroyed, and 1,938 were 
greatly damaged, so that at least 18,000 villagers were 

The communes most affected were those along the outer 
ring of fortifications, such as Cruybeke, Tamise, Bornhem, 


Puers, Liezele, Breendonck, Thisselt, Willebroeck, Blaes- 
velt, Waelhem, Duffel, Wavre-Sainte-Catherine, Koning- 
shoyckt, Lierre, Kessel, and Schilde. Some villages had 
been annihilated. Not even a cat remained. 

By springtime the need was intense. In defiance of all 
the laws of hygiene, and in most dangerous promiscuity, 
returning refugees housed themselves in stables with the 
animals, in cellar pits, or in the lee of old walls. 

The Provincial Committee, therefore, set aside funds for 
the repair or reconstruction of such houses as could 
be rendered habitable, in whole or in part, and the con- 
struction of temporary houses. Requests for such construc- 
tions were received through the local relief committees, 
and if approved, a commission consisting of three archi- 
tects and a sanitary engineer planned the house and pro- 
vided the estimates. The structures were single or group 
houses, or communal barracks. In a few towns and vil- 
ages the commission approved the construction of small 
shops for retail marketing. 

Brick for the walls and thick paper for the partitions 
were the materials commonly used, since both could be 
employed after the war in the construction of the perma- 
nent building. Often it was possible to use part of the 
bricks from the original building, and sometimes the old 
foundations and cellar. 

Labor and oversight were provided by the local relief 
committee. The terrible state of unemployment made 
such labor as this a veritable godsend. 

The use of the ground was given to the Provincial Com- 
mittee by the proprietor or the communal authorities. 
The temporary house remained the legal property of the 
Committee, and was liable to destruction on orders of the 
military authorities, the State, or the province. The oc- 
cupant paid the Committee a rental of five per cent, of the 
cost, or, if indigent, he paid nothing. After the war, when 


the permanent structure is begun, the proprietor has the 
right to buy of the Committee all the materials used in the 
temporary structure, and the materials on the ground are 
the property of the proprietor and not of the Committee. 

The cost of these temporary houses is remarkably low. 
Single structures run from 500 to 600 francs; groups of 
houses, from 1,200 to 1,705 francs. Repairs of damaged 
houses are made, as a rule, at a cost of less than 250 
francs, on a basis of 40 francs per person. 


MUCH was left to the initiative of the communal com- 
mittees, and sometimes this brought admirable results. In 
the industrial commune of Willebroeck there were about 
1,400 unemployed workmen out of a total population of 
12,000. There was not enough work for all, so that the 
number of working days during which a man had a right 
to be employed varied according to the size of his family. 
The men were then divided into shifts. It is an old Belgian 
custom for groups of transient laborers to march about the 
country under a leader who acts as spokesman for the men 
and overseer for the employer, so the Willebroeck shifts 
of chomeurs had designated leaders who put them to work 
or enrolled the men on the register of the unemployed on 
days when the shift was obliged to be idle. The distribu- 
tion of food and money was made in the same systematic 
manner. Each shift presented itself with its leader ; pack- 
ages of food were prepared in advance ; the booklets identi- 
fying the applicants and the amount due them were veri- 
fied ; and in less than four hours there was delivered to the 
1,400 unemployed all the assistance in kind or in money 
to which they were entitled. 



BOTH the Commission for Relief in Belgium and the 
Provincial Committees were large employers of labor. 
A fleet of more than three hundred lighters and their 
crews were engaged in the transport of merchandise from 
Rotterdam into Belgium. Every province employed hun- 
dreds of dockers, shippers, warehousemen, and clerks. In 
Antwerp we engaged one of the remarkable groups of 
freight handlers called the " Antwerp Nations " : organiza- 
tions which date from the earliest commercial prosperity of 
the metropolis, which work co-operatively, declaring monthly 
dividends and poor relief benefits, hold in common their 
capital of horses, carts, and houses, obey an elected dean 
and sub-dean, and have from twenty to sixty members 
each. We had under contract in the province ten steam 
mills; one for maize belonging to the National Committee 
and milled for the whole of Belgium ; one working on wheat 
for the account of the Provincial Committee of Limbourg; 
one for the Waesland, and seven for the account of the Pro- 
vincial Committee of Antwerp. We employed clerks and ac- 
countants to apportion supplies to the 165 communes in 
the province, and flour to the 185 bakeries in the city of 
Antwerp. We engaged private detectives to smell out 
frauds. We paid thousands of women and girls in the 
clothing workshops, and in the villages we paid day wages 
to the builders of temporary houses. 

But these efforts were as nothing in the face of the all 
but universal unemployment. 

Commerce and industry were practically dead. Of the 
natural resources of Belgium, only land and minerals were 
available for an industrial revival. But agriculture was 
dead until spring, and the coal mines in the region called 


the Borinage, which hold the most important mineral wealth 
of Belgium, were already opened by the Germans and 
worked to their profit. In normal years Belgian imports 
and exports of coal and coke practically balance. 

Coal from the Belgian province of Hainaut was shipped 
in railway cars and canal boats, and sold through a Ger- 
man Kohlen-Zentrale in Brussels. With this revival of 
industry the Commission for Relief in Belgium and the 
National Committee had nothing to do. 

Our interest in Belgian industry was based solely on plans 
for the relief of the unemployed. A good case was that 
of the brick industries in the province of Antwerp. These 
in peace time employ large numbers of people, and as 
early as December, 1914, the Antwerp Provincial Com- 
mittee, the city of Antwerp, and the National Bank of Bel- 
gium raised 300,000 francs one-third of which was sub- 
scribed by the Provincial Committee to subsidize the brick 
works in the neighborhood of Boom, Rumpst, Terhaegen, 
Niel, Schelle, and Hemixem, where a working population 
of more than 15,000 brick workers was idle. 

The money was advanced to the communes, which in their 
turn made advances in salary checks to the workers. 
Special communal storehouses were established, where work- 
men and their families could exchange the checks for food 
and other commodities. Salaries were payable up to eighty 
per cent in these checks, and food was furnished at reduced 
prices. The brick factories were responsible for the value 
of the checks, and were under obligations to repay the sums 
advanced them, three months after the conclusion of peace. 

The case of the brick industry was relatively simple. 
Bricks can easily be stored, and will be readily marketable 
after the war when the period of rebuilding begins. In the 
case of other important industries more serious problems 
presented themselves, and one by one they were found prac- 
tically insurmountable. 


Lace, however, belongs to another category. It is one of 
the few industrial products which has no military value, 
and the Belgian lace industry employs vast numbers of 
people. Unfortunately, it has been brutally exploited. In 
peace time the lace-makers receive practically nothing for 
their work, and are controlled by patrons so closely or- 
ganized that improvement is almost impossible. Both men 
and women engage in lace-making. Farm laborers who 
spend the summers in southern Belgium and in France, 
spend the winters in their Flemish homesteads, and occupy 
their spare time with the making of lace. Many of the 
convent schools are lace factories under another name. 
And the summer tourist will remember having seen in almost 
every Belgian village he visited, lines of women and girls, 
sitting in the streets before their cottages, with a handful 
of little bobbins, spinning white spider web over wooden 
pillows laid across their knees. Such villagers are the 
makers of the famous Mechlin and Valenciennes laces. 

Immediate relief, not social reform, was all that the 
Commission could undertake. On the first enrollment, 
43,328 lace workers applied for assistance, and were helped 
through a lace committee of which Mrs. Brand Whitlock 
was honorary-president. An attempt then was made by 
the Commission for Relief in Belgium to sell Belgian laces 
in America, but the effort was not a success, and the Com- 
mission abandoned on principle attempts to vend abroad the 
products of Belgian toil. 



Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 1915. 

NEGOTIATIONS were initiated in the month of June look- 
ing toward the drastic control of the 1915 harvest of 
breadstuffs. The total harvest of such materials in the 
" Occupation " zone (all Belgium except West Flanders 
and about one-half of East Flanders) will be controlled 
by a Commission comprising Belgian and American 
representatives from the Commission for Relief and the 
Comite National, together with representatives of the Ger- 
man authorities. It has been determined that an appro- 
priate proportion of each peasant's production will be set 
aside for seed and food for his family through the year 
and will be left in his possession. The excess will be taken 
over at fixed prices by our organization and distributed 
pari passu with imported material over the entire twelve 
months. Drastic penalties have been enacted against any 
traffic in breadstuffs except by the Commission. By these 
means speculation will be prevented, even distribution se- 
cured, and the destination of the breadstuffs to the civil 
population will be assured. The amount in excess of the 
requirements of the agriculturists about 1,250,000 people 
is not likely to be very great, but this class will have been 
placed in a position of security and removed from the care 
of the Commission so far as breadstuffs are concerned. 
The actual effect on wheat imports cannot yet be de- 
termined, but it appears that owing to the exhaustion of 
other reserves a continued import of 50,000 tons per month 
will be necessary after harvest. The great staple of pota- 
toes promises well and it is hoped will be sufficient to carry 
through next year without imports. 



AGRICULTURE had been a constant concern of the Com- 
mission and the National Committee almost from the be- 
ginnings of the work. On my arrival in Antwerp in Decem- 
ber, 1914, 1 found a small volunteer organization, called the 
Agricultural and Horticultural Committee, under the 
presidency of Mr. W. A. van der Veen, a tall, slender 
Dutchman who had come to Antwerp with money raised in 
Holland for charitable purposes, and who intended espe- 
cially to help the farmers of the country. He had been in 
the Boer War, and told exciting and picturesque stories of 
his adventures. It was hard to believe that such an im- 
maculate, devout, energetic gentleman once was elected 
colonel of a band of Boers because, as he told it, " he was 
the best thief in the lot." His wartime foraging had given 
way long since to constructive statesmanship, and he knew 
exactly how to deal with the Belgian Farmers' Union, 
called in Flemish, Boerenbond. It was through Mr. van der 
Veen's committee that the Agricultural Section of the 
Provincial Committee was developed for Antwerp. 

Belgium uses a greater weight of chemical fertilizers per 
square mile than any other country in the world. Besides, 
peasant children on hands and knees scrape up dung from 
the roads and put it on the land. The Committee organ- 
ized an agricultural co-operative society which purchased 
supplies, such as seed and fertilizers; the communes as- 
sisted by placing waste land and supplies at the disposition 
of farmers, and the crop was his who grew it. In several 
communes men were encouraged to dig up vacant lots, 
and the municipality donated seed potatoes and manures. 

The close-cropped lawns about some of the finest castles 
in Belgium were plowed up, and potatoes planted where 


flowerbeds had been. In many cases choice estates were 
given wholly to cultivation, and the proprietors saw nothing 
but potato tops whichever way they looked. 

In normal times 18.79 P er cent f tne population is 
employed in agriculture, and of these 42.82 per cent are 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
of Northern France, June 30, 1915. 

THE inadequacy of local production, together with the 
destruction resulting from military operations, brought 
about a shortage of food supply which threatened the 
population with famine in its most acute form. The condi- 
tion of the people was much akin to that of Belgium, but 
instead of the first symptoms of famine appearing in 
November, as in the case of Belgium, it was, even in the 
most denuded districts, delayed until January, and the 
situation did not become universal before March. . . . 
The figures indicate a shrinkage of about one million from 
the normal population, due to the mobilization, emigration, 
and other wastages due to the war. Practically the whole 
of the male population eligible for military service has 
gone, and in addition, a considerable proportion of the 
elderly men of commercial experience and superior char- 
acter were drafted into other sections upon the advance 
of the German army, so that there is in many localities a 
distinct shortage of men of the experience and character 
necessary for leadership. The difficulties of organization 
have, therefore, been correspondingly increased, the labor 


of distribution being concentrated upon a smaller body of 
available men than in Belgium. One concomitant of this 
situation is the preponderance of helpless women and 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
of Northern France, June 30, 1915. 

THE whole of the foodstuffs imported are sold to the 
District Committees at prices fixed by the Commission. 
The District Committees, in turn, sell the foodstuffs to 
the Communal Committees at a small advance, sufficient 
to cover the local cost of redistribution. The communes, 
in turn, re-sell the foodstuffs without profit to the popula- 
tion. At this point in the cycle an involved transaction is 
necessary owing to the absolute disappearance of all normal 
circulating media throughout the country, and in order to 
provide for the destitute. To supply the deficiency in cur- 
rency each commune is now printing its own notes from 
2 centimes up to 50 francs. This currency is put into cir- 
culation by the communes by: 

(a) Payment for communal services, 

(b) Loans to individuals against property, 

(c) Benevolence to the destitute. 

Under the latter two classes sufficient advances are made 
to enable the population to live. The Communal Commit- 
tees in turn accept this local currency in payment for the 
ration of foodstuffs which the people eat daily. Thus, the 
Communal Committees become possessed of local com- 


munal currency representing the value of the foodstuffs 
which they have issued to the population. The Committee, 
in turn, surrenders these notes to the Communal Authori- 
ties against an obligation of the Commune to pay an equiva- 
lent sum after the war is over, and these obligations, to- 
gether with guarantees by the individual members of the 
District Committees, form the basis upon which advances 
are obtained abroad. In order to facilitate matters of ac- 
counting, the foodstuffs are debited by the Commission to 
the Comite National Beige, who, in turn, debit them to the 
various District Committees and secure the necessary obliga- 
tions in return, the Comite Beige thus having the responsi- 
bility of detailed accounting. 

As stated above, the Commission fixes the prices at which 
foodstuffs are debited to the District Committees, and these 
prices are fixed at a rate somewhat above the cost. A 
margin is thus secured by the Commission, which is devoted 
to three purposes : 

(a) Indemnification of Local Committees in cases of ac- 
cidental destruction of warehouses, or deterioration. 

(b) Unforeseen losses in transportation. 

(c) Reserve against fluctuations in exchange and food 

If any portion of the margin remains after these services 
it will be ultimately credited to the communes, as the Com- 
mission operates absolutely without profit, and the whole of 
its direction is carried on by volunteers. 

In the matter of the reserve for exchange and food fluc- 
tuations ; it will be readily appreciated that there are violent 
fluctuations in exchange between the French franc and the 
foreign markets in which the foodstuffs must be procured 
against gold, and this, together with the fluctuations in the 
prices of foodstuffs and the cost of transportation, Would 
render it wholly impossible to charge these foodstuffs out 


to the District Committees at actual cost from day to day. 
It was, therefore, determined by the Commission that the 
whole operation could be greatly simplified by adjusting 
prices from time to time at round figures, which leave a 
small margin to cover eventualities. Despite the inacces- 
sibility of the area and the enormous difficulties of trans- 
portation and distribution, the price of bread has been 
maintained at approximately the price in Paris. 


Reprinted from the Report of the Commission for Relief 
in Belgium, June 30, 1915. 

THE joint organizations have secured advances, from 
patriotic Belgian Banks and Institutions, of an aggregate 
sum of $10,000,000 of working capital for the Provisioning 
Department, and this sum, together with the credits which 
have been obtained by the Commission, would be sufficient 
to revolve the Department on itself, were it possible to effect 
exchange of the receipts from food sales. In fact, aside 
from the working capital, the whole financial problem of 
the Provisioning Department is one of exchange, and this 
problem is surrounded with the greatest of difficulties. 
These difficulties arise from the fact that the receipts in 
Belgium are entirely in Belgian paper currency, and that 
this currency is inconvertible into gold, for legal and 
economic reasons. . . . 

While the work of the Provisioning Department is in the 
nature of a commercial operation, its inception and ad- 
ministration constitute a humanitarian effort of the first 
order, these phases being: 


FIRST. The negotiations which have opened the door 
through the belligerent lines by which foodstuffs may pass 
through to the Belgian people, and the constant negotiations 
necessary to maintain this opening, the import and distribu- 
tion being surrounded with an extensive series of guarantees 
which form part of the responsibilities of the Commission. 

SECOND. The Department is restricted in its operations 
by the belligerent governments as to the character and 
quantities of commodities it can import and by its available 
resources, and it is therefore necessary to insist upon a 
just and equitable division of the whole of the imports over 
the entire population, and in this phase the department has 
up to date succeeded in its task of at least providing a 
sufficiency to preserve life and health as is evidenced by 
the remarkably healthy condition of the entire population. 

THIRD. The footstuffs are sold at a profit, and the 
profits thus earned are given absolutely to the Benevolent 
Department for the support of the destitute. These profits 
are in the nature of a tax on those people in Belgium who 
have means, for the benefit of the destitute. Such profits 
have been made possible solely by the generous volunteer 
executive, commercial, and transportation services, and the 
amount of these profits is practically the measure of the 
value of such volunteer service, because the prices fixed for 
foodstuffs in Belgium have been no greater than retail prices 
in London. It is interesting to note that, aside from the 
savings in cost, owing to many direct concessions, the entire 
overhead expenditure of the Commission as shown by 
the annexed accounts amounts to considerably less than 
one per cent of the value of foodstuffs handled. 



Reprinted from the first Annual Report of the Commis 
sion for Relief in Belgium, October, 

IT was . . . agreed in February, 1915, that the British 
and French Governments would advance monthly 500,000 
and 12,500,000 francs, respectively, to the Belgian Govern- 
ment at Le Havre for the service of the Commission for 
Relief in Belgium. . . . 


THROUGHOUT this narrative I have not spared the per- 
sonal pronoun. A further offence against delicacy may 
be permitted me, as evidence of the Belgian exaggeration 
of one individual's personal importance and as another ex- 
ample of their feelings toward America and Americans. 

Translation of part of an article which appeared in the 
Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, Rotterdam, Holland, on 
October 18, 1915. 

ANTWERP, October 16. 

The simple official demonstration which took place this 
morning in the beautiful Marriage Hall of the City Hall 
had a specially touching significance. The Burgomaster 
and Aldermen, as well as the members of the City Council, 
stood grouped together there, in order to say a few solemn 
words of thanks to Mr. Edward Eyre Hunt, the delegate of 
the Commission for Relief in Belgium to the National Relief 
Committee in the province of Antwerp. Mr. Hunt is leav- 


ing for the United States, and the administration of our 
town wished to celebrate his departure in a suitable way. 

Burgomaster Jan de Vos first spoke, to express how much 
the Belgian people, and especially the Antwerpians, in 
these tragic times, have to thank their benefactors; for 
Mr. Hunt has, by his devotion at all times, carried out his 
beautiful humane task in an exemplary manner. As a sign 
of our gratitude, our comfortable old City-Father handed 
to Mr. Hunt, in the name of the city of Antwerp, a gold 
medal of honor with a figure of our King, and replicas 
thereof in silver and bronze. The medal has the following 
inscription : " The City of Antwerp to Mr. Edward Eyre 
Hunt, i6th October, 1915." Our municipal Secretary, 
Hubert Melis, was then requested by the Burgomaster to 
read an address, wherein the grateful feelings of all were 
recorded. This address is printed on Plantin's press by the 
master-printers, the famous firm of J. E. Buschmann. It 
reads literally as follows: 


Today, October i6th, 1915, the City Council of Antwerp 
has assembled with the Burgomaster and Aldermen, to say 
farewell to Mr. Edward Eyre Hunt on the Occasion of his 
departure from this City, and to thank him for the devo- 
tion and the skill shown by him in carrying out his mission 
as Delegate of the Commission for Relief in Belgium to the 
National Relief Committee in the province of Antwerp. 
The gathering thereby requested Mr. Hunt to express to 
his chiefs, and especially to his fellow-citizens in the United 
States, the deeply moved feelings of gratitude which Bel- 
gium, sorely tried, but so wonderfully upheld, feels for 
her kind and noble friends across the sea. 

The Burgomaster 

(Signed) JAN DE Vos. 

Antwerp, October i6th, 1915 

By order 

The Secretary 



Mr. Hunt, much moved, thanked them for their praise, 
and assured them that he would long hold in warm re- 
membrance his stay in Antwerp. 

Significant of the respect and reverence in which Antwerp 
has held the Americans who came here to relieve the pre- 
vailing need, so far as was in their power, is the following 
fact which has come to my ears, and which should be 
made known, although I do not wish thereby in any way 
to wound the modesty of our worthy fellow townsman. A 
great Antwerp business man, Mr. Bunge, immediately 
placed his palatial house at Mr. Hunt's disposal, while Mr. 
Bunge himself went to his country estate at Hoogboom. 
The liberality of the Americans here found a counterpart in 
Antwerp hospitality. 

Word for word, the address of the city is given above. 
It is in Dutch, the official language of the Flemish city of 
Antwerp. When the municipal Secretary wished to repeat 
the address in English for the benefit of Mr. Hunt, to the 
surprise of all present Mr. Hunt replied that he had under- 
stood the address, since, during the year he had lived in 
Antwerp, he had felt bound to make himself familiar with 
the language of the people. 

A declaration which went to the hearts of the representa- 
tives of the Antwerpians, and which the whole of our people 
will know how to appreciate as a proof of respect for our 
national character. A noble American citizen here gave a 
fine example to many Belgians. 



D Hunt, Edward Eyre 
638 War bread